Homelessness in Scotland on the increase
May 24th 2009
According to new figures from the Scottish Government, the number of homeless households has risen to over 40,000, signalling a crisis in Scotland's homelessness. This is despite progress being made towards the Scottish Government's 2012 homelessness target.
Worryingly, homelessness among children in Scotland has increased by almost a third in the last year. Almost 900 families with children applied to councils as homeless - an increase from 3,094 to 3,986. Between December 2007 and March 2008, the numbers rose by 20 per cent.
These numbers indicate that there are more than 7,000 children in Scotland in temporary accomodation, mostly in social housing, whose families are awaiting permanent homes. Glasgow, the nation's largest city, has correspondingly seen the largest rise in homelessness in Scotland, with an massive increase of 87 per cent, from 708 families to 1,323, over the last year. These figures may be partly because former asylum-seeker families are now being included in figures. Previously 542 of the families were asylum seekers.
Housing groups commented that the figures were extremely worrying. Overall, the number of homeless applications actually fell from 59,550 in 2006/2007 to 56,609 in 2007/2008, the lowest since 2004, but still over 13,000 higher than ten years ago. Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, says, "We're heartened that overall Scotland is making progress towards its internationally acclaimed homelessness target. But these figures also show a serious backlog in the number of people living in temporary accommodation ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ and we have no guarantee that in these hard economic times, this figure will not rise. Living in temporary accommodation is destructive to people's lives, giving them no sense of having somewhere safe and secure to live."
"The Scottish Government is making the right moves, bringing forward cash to invest in housing sooner rather than later, focusing on preventing homelessness and investing in safety nets for those who fall off the housing ladder through repossession."
"We must see the figures for temporary accommodation dropping, as the number of people entitled to permanent accommodation rise. Local authorities up and down the country are crying out for more homes to house people. More cash for affordable rented housing is vital to give people not just the right to a home under legislation, but also the keys to one."
Recently 13,000 single parents and 3,000 couples with children asked to be put on the list. Almost 2,000 women had to flee domestic violence or abuse, while nearly 6,000 people became homeless after a relationship breakdown. 6,500 men became homeless after being asked to leave their homes.
The figures also showed that almost 10 per cent of new homeless cases were caused by landlords terminating a tenancy for reasons besides rent arrears. Three thousand people were made homeless after falling into mortgage or rent arrears. By 2012 all unintentionally homeless people should have access to a permanent home, under Scottish legislation. Currently, only people designated to be in 'priority need' ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ generally families with children ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ have the right to permanent homes.