Temporary accommodation is becoming a fact of life for Scots families and children
Children in Scotland endured one million days of homelessness last year, according to a new report.
An analysis of Scottish Government statistics following a Freedom of Information request by Shelter Scotland showed that in 2014-15 local authorities provided around 3.8 million days of temporary accommodation for homeless households, of which nearly one million were for households with children.
The use of temporary accommodation in Scotland highlights that 61% of all homeless households (21,200 households) received temporary accommodation while the local authority resolved their homeless application.
While temporary accommodation provides an important safety net for families that have lost their home, extended stays can be detrimental to wellbeing, particularly for children, Shelter said.
On average, households in temporary accommodation stayed there for 23 weeks.
However, a third spent over six months in temporary accommodation and one in 10 spent over a year.
Half of all households with children spent more than 17 weeks in temporary accommodation, which was higher than the 13-week median for households without children.
We need political commitment to a major house building programme right now - Alison Watson
Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Homeless children in Scotland spending a total of almost one million days in temporary accommodation last year is a staggering statistic and is simply not good enough. The impact of homelessness on children can be devastating to their health and life chances, with each homeless child losing on average 55 days of schooling a year.
“To tackle Scotland’s housing crisis and help end housing-related poverty, the Scottish Government needs to commit to a major house building programme of at least 12,000 new affordable homes each year for the next five years.
“This would help reduce long stays in temporary accommodation and bring hope of a home to the 150,000 households on council waiting lists across Scotland.”
Shelter Scotland says that a massive shortage of affordable social housing for people in temporary accommodation to move into for the longer term and a lack of real options for local authorities to address the housing crisis is behind the figures.
According to Audit Scotland, using temporary accommodation costs Scottish local authorities around £27 million a year more than housing them in permanent homes.
Watson continued: “This report is further evidence of Scotland’s housing crisis and why we need political commitment to a major house building programme right now, to ensure that no child spends Christmas or any other time of the year homeless, living in temporary accommodation.”