Crisis hails progress on homelessness in Scotland but warns rough sleepers could be ‘falling off radar’

Jon Sparkes  - Crisis Chief Executive
Jon Sparkes - Crisis Chief Executive

Crisis, a national charity for homeless people, has questioned whether the statistics published yesterday show the real extent of homelessness in Scotland.

New Scottish Government figures published yesterday have shown that the number of people formally approaching their council as homeless in 2015/16 fell by 4 per cent compared to the previous year. This fall was attributed to the impact of housing options and homelessness prevention strategies. Amongst those approaching their council, there was a 6 per cent fall in the number of people who had slept rough the night before.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Scotland has made considerable progress in the fight against homelessness, and these figures continue to show improvement, both in the number of people formally seeking help and the proportion who slept rough the night before.

“However, following rising demand for rough sleeper shelters in Glasgow and Edinburgh over the winter, we’re concerned that behind these statistics there may be growing numbers of people who have simply fallen off the radar. We are also worried about the levels of support needs amongst those seeking help from their council. We must make sure that the hardest to help aren’t being left behind.

“Despite the extension of rights, homelessness is increasingly visible on the streets of Scotland’s cities. There is no room for complacency, which is why we’re calling for a more robust, proactive approach to prevention and for Scottish Government to develop a strategic approach to homelessness across government that mitigates recent cuts to local authority budgets and social security”

The Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP said: “Homelessness remains an issue that we urgently need to get to grips with and these figures prove that. What is now clear is that we urgently require a radical programme of housing reforms to deliver thousands of quality, affordable and sustainable homes. We must make land available for low cost housing and ensure more homes are built where they are needed. This is what we campaigned for in the last election and we’re ready to speak to the government about taking these proposals forward.”

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