Commitment to end homelessness ‘welcome’ but politicians must ‘focus on delivery’

Shelter Scotland has welcomed Scottish Labour’s commitment to eliminate homelessness but has urged politicians in both Holyrood and councils to “focus on delivery.”  

Commitment to end homelessness 'welcome' but politicians must 'focus on delivery'

Gordon MacRae

In his address to the party’s conference last week, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said ensuring everyone had somewhere “safe, warm and affordable to live” is a core Labour value and stressed his ambition to make poverty and inequality “a thing of the past”.

Mr Sarwar said: Homelessness and rough sleeping is on the rise. This is a scandal in any country, but particularly in a country as rich as ours. This should shame both our governments.

“We have spoken about how we build the future together. But that future must include eradicating poverty and ending homelessness.”

Responding to Labour’s commitment, Shelter Scotland assistant director, Gordon MacRae, said enforcing housing rights and delivering more social homes would go some way in achieving its goal.

“We welcome today’s announcement that Scottish Labour will put homelessness at the heart of their plans for local government over the next five years,” he added. “At Shelter Scotland we know that two key things need to happen to lift thousands of children across the country out of homelessness.”

Mr MacRae added: “Firstly, housing rights must be enforced. Every council should be held accountable if they breach their legal duties to provide permanent homes for people trapped in our broken and biased homelessness system. Right now, councils are failing to uphold people’s rights and are not fulfilling their legal obligations. If more resources are required, they must be made available by the Scottish Government. If they have the resources, then they should be held to account by regulators. Those in power can’t be allowed to avoid responsibility for the continued failure to protect families and children from homelessness. 

“Secondly, the social homes promised at last year’s election must be delivered. We know that supply chain issues, labour shortages and rising inflation mean we can’t deliver more social homes for the same money as we could five years ago. However, those problems do not make homelessness inevitable. We need our politicians in Holyrood and City Chambers across Scotland to lead from the front. 

“Homelessness across Scotland has been getting worse not better over the last five years. It’s time to stop the talking and focus on fulfilling the promises made to our communities once and for all.”

Listen to Gordon MacRae discuss this and much more on homelessness in the latest episode of The Scottish Housing News Podcast, published today.

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