A leading homelessness charity has urged the Scottish Government “to commit to a new national homelessness strategy”, after figures published on Tuesday revealed a “deeply worrying” increase in the number of children living in temporary accommodation.
Figures released by the Scottish Government show 5,751 children were living in temporary accommodation on 30 September 2016, an increase of 826 compared to the same day in 2015.
On 30 September 2016, there were 3,174 households with children or with a pregnant household member in temporary accommodation, an increase of 355 compared the same day the previous year. Among these households, 35 had been given shelter in bed and breakfast accommodation – more than double the same time in 2015.
Overall, the number of households in temporary accommodation has risen slightly, from 10,473 to 10,570 – a 1% increase. But the data also suggests that some councils were better at tackling the problem than others, with the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation falling in 16 Local Authority areas but rising in 16 others. Aberdeenshire saw the largest decrease, while West Lothian and Edinburgh reported the highest increases.
30% of the 10,570 Scottish households living in temporary accommodation on 30 September 2016 included children.
Homeless charity Shelter Scotland says “a third consecutive rise” in the number of children in Scotland in temporary accommodation “is a cause for great concern”, and warned the data “shows that homelessness is far from fixed”.
Commenting on the figures, Adam Lang, Head of Communications and Policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “Today’s figures back up our concerns voiced last year that the decrease in homelessness numbers seen in recent times is slowing and may have plateaued. This is a cause for great concern and highlights the urgent need for the Scottish Government to commit to a new national homelessness strategy.
“It is deeply worrying that there are 826 more children without a permanent home in Scotland than the same time last year – a third consecutive rise. This is simply not good enough in 21st Century Scotland and shows that homelessness is far from fixed.
“To ensure no child spends longer than necessary in temporary accommodation, we need to deliver both a major step change in affordable housing supply, at least 12,000 affordable homes each year of this parliament, as well as a renewed local and national commitment to tackling the root causes of homelessness in Scotland.”
He added: “The good work carried out in reducing homelessness in Scotland since devolution can only continue by ensuring that homelessness services across Scotland are properly funded and high standards are maintained to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“While we recognise the significant financial pressures on local authorities, we would nevertheless call on them to protect and prioritise the funding of vital homelessness service provisions.”