Scots homelessness applications down

Fewer families in Scotland are becoming homeless and fewer children are living in temporary accommodation, according to official statistics.

There were 8,007 homelessness applications between October and December 2013, a tenth lower than the same quarter of 2012.

The number of families living in temporary accommodation has also dropped to its lowest level for five years.

Families in temporary accommodation decreased by 3% during the year from 10,252 to 9,963.

Of these, 2,456 were households with children in temporary accommodation, a fifth lower than one year earlier.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting people of all ages who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“We have worked hard with local authorities over the past few years to develop services in which staff assist households to consider options and address their individual needs in order to help prevent homelessness before it occurs.

“Alongside this we are increasing the supply of affordable housing to ensure settled accommodation is available to households as quickly as possible to reduce time spent in temporary accommodation. This is a vital part of our efforts to build a better and fairer Scotland.

“Today’s figures, which show a drop of 20% in the number of households with children in temporary accommodation as well as a 10% decrease in homeless applications, demonstrate that this is working.

“However, while we welcome this continued improvement, we are concerned that Westminster’s welfare changes may undermine this good work.

“This Government aims to deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes – including 20,000 for social rent, over the life of this Parliament. Over the four years to March 2016, we will be making over £1.3 billion available for affordable housing.

“We will continue to work with councils and their partners to prevent homelessness and improve outcomes for households that do become homeless.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is welcome news that 14% fewer families and individuals experienced the trauma of homelessness, which is testament to the hard work of teams of local housing officers across Scotland.

“It is also good news that the number of households in temporary accommodation – particularly those with children – continues to fall.

“However, despite Scotland’s progressive legislation on homelessness, it is still too high and we cannot afford to be complacent or lose sight of the fact that 6,635 households found themselves homeless in just three months.

“We now wait to see the Scottish Housing Regulator’s report into the impact new approaches such as housing options are having on homelessness prevention to understand where further progress can be made and where changes are needed.”