Despite having most progressive legislation in the world, action on homelessness remains poorly funded warns charity.
A perfect storm of cuts to local authority budgets and changes to how temporary accommodation is funded is undermining Scotland’s progress on homelessness, a charity has warned.
Ahead of its annual conference in Glasgow today (8 March), Shelter Scotland said that as local authority budgets for homelessness services are not ring-fenced they remain vulnerable to cuts.
It also says that the money local authorities receive from central government to pay for temporary accommodation is going to be reduced by being linked to the Local Housing Allowance from next year.
Uncertainty of the funding situation is a potential threat to the Scotland’s internationally-recognised 2012 commitment on homelessness which promises a permanent home to everyone who is unintentionally homeless, the charity warned.
Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: "We share Shelter Scotland's concern about the UK government's changes to housing benefit for temporary accommodation.
"Temporary accommodation is part of the strong safety net for households that become homeless and the funding that supports this is vital.
"The Scottish Government will continue to work with local authorities to see how they can meet the challenges of the UK Government's changes to housing benefits for temporary accommodation."
We are gravely concerned that austerity cuts imposed on local authorities could put pressure on funding for vital homelessness services - Adam Lang
Adam Lang, head of policy at Shelter, said: “We are gravely concerned that austerity cuts imposed on local authorities could put pressure on funding for vital homelessness services. Combine that with changes to the way in which councils are funded to provide temporary accommodation to homeless people – significantly reducing the budget from next year - and the picture looks very bleak.
“Scotland has made great strides on homelessness over the past decade and it would be a crying shame to undermine that progress.”
Last year in Scotland 35,764 people made a homeless application while 10,567 households were provided with temporary accommodation - including 4,923 children.
Shelter wants funding for homelessness services to be protected and new funding streams secured so that the most vulnerable people in Scotland are properly supported at their time of greatest need.
Lang added: “It is imperative that, together, we face up to the reality that the cuts will happen and try to find some practical and creative ways of tackling this potentially catastrophic situation.”