Number of children living in temporary accommodation in Scotland rises for fourth year
Over 500 more children were housed in temporary accommodation last year than the year before
Child in silhouette - Image credit: Arne Dedert/DPA/Press Association Images
The number of children living in temporary accommodation in Scotland has risen for the fourth year in a row.
There were 557 more children living in temporary housing in 2017-18 than the previous year – an increase of nine per cent in a year and 59 per cent higher than in 2014.
Homelessness rose overall by one per cent last year, reversing a nine year trend of decline.
Scottish local authorities received 34,972 homelessness applications between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, compared with 34,570 in 2016-17.
This is still significantly lower than the peak of 57,672 in 2008-2009.
The number of households who became homeless also rose by one per cent.
Commenting on the annual Scottish Government statistics, Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: “These statistics are shocking and should start alarm bells ringing in Holyrood that homelessness in Scotland is getting worse not better.
“Every 18 minutes a household was made homeless in Scotland last year with 34,972 homelessness applications – more than last year.”
Brown added that the figures showed “clear evidence” that the progress seen in recent years was now being reversed.
He said: “We welcome the focus on homelessness in the last year from the Scottish Government, but it is now time for urgent action from all areas of local and national government to work together better to tackle and prevent homelessness in Scotland.
“We need urgent action and resources now to start making a difference to all those facing or suffering homelessness.”
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the Scottish Government was “committed to ending homelessness and rough sleeping for good” and the figures were a priority.
He said: “While the long-term trend shows a decrease in the number of homeless applications – a reduction of 39 per cent between 2008/9 and 2017/18 – these figures are a reminder of why preventing homelessness and transforming temporary accommodation will remain a key priority for government.
“We want time spent in unsuitable temporary accommodation to be as short as possible, especially for households with children or where there is a pregnancy.”
Stewart said the Scottish Government would implement the recommendations of the independent Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, backed by the £50m Ending Homelessness Together Fund.
However, Scottish Labour said the figures underlined the SNP’s failure to tackle homelessness in Scotland.
Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, said: “These figures are truly shocking.
“Having just one person homeless in 21st century Scotland is unacceptable – but to see homelessness on the rise once again is a scandal.
“It is clear the SNP government simply is not taking Scotland’s homelessness crisis seriously and SNP ministers should be ashamed by these figures.”
Scottish Green housing spokesperson Andy Wightman criticised the Scottish Government for failing to take bold enough steps to tackle the problem.
The MSP for Lothian said: “It's simply not the priority it should be, and as result we have more families and more children in temporary accommodation, causing distress that will affect them throughout their lives.
"Housing a basic human right and Scottish ministers are far too cautious when it comes to taking radical action.
“We need to see bold measures that reduce the cost of land for councils to build the homes that are needed in our communities and we need strong action to stop the scourge of short-term lets and second homes depriving our city centres and rural towns and villages of badly-needed long-term homes.”
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton called the rise in children in temporary accommodation “heartbreaking” and called on both the SNP and Conservatives to make changes to tackle the problem.
He said: "Access to adequate stable housing is vital for health, mental wellbeing and educational attainment.
"The Scottish Government needs to build more homes for social rent and help bring the thousands of long-term vacant properties back into use through a new help to renovate loan.
“The Conservatives also need to reform their social security policies which are putting people at greater risk of homelessness, starting with the botched and irresponsible roll out of Universal Credit."
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