Homeless Scots ‘asked to move to England’ as new statistics show system ‘on brink of failure’
Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland has revealed that its clients in central Scotland who become homeless are being asked to move hundreds of miles to the Highlands or the north of England as Scotland’s local authorities run out of options to help.
Local authorities say that they do not have the homes needed to support the unprecedented number of people in the homelessness system. The charity says that the situation is the worse it has ever seen and that council homelessness services appear to be on the brink of failure.
Reports of people being asked to move to England have emerged as new national statistics show that homelessness is rising back to pre-pandemic levels. A shocking number of 8,635 children are currently stuck in temporary accommodation, the highest number on record.
The charity is calling on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to get a grip on the crisis in homelessness which they say is certain to get worse in the months ahead. Shelter Scotland director, Alison Watson, pointed to the combined impact of Covid-19-related rent arrears, rising evictions, the cost-of-living crisis, and the need to find accommodation to welcome Ukrainian refugees as issues that are yet to show in the numbers published today.
Shelter Scotland is urgently demanding that the First Minster leads a new national initiative to ensure local authorities find the homes they need and guarantee every citizen their
legal right to a home if they become homeless.
Alison Watson said: “When I learned that councils were asking our clients to leave jobs and family in the central belt to take up accommodation in England, I did a double take. Surely it has not come to this; that today in Scotland we appear unable to provide for the most basic of human rights, the right to a safe home.
“Scotland was in the grip of a housing emergency before the pandemic hit. The political will to get people off the streets showed what can be done but instead of pushing on and finishing the job of getting people a permanent home, we have gone backwards.
“Homelessness today is no longer characterised by people sleeping on the streets. Instead, it is children trapped, sometimes for years, in temporary accommodation. Accommodation, which is often damp, miserable, and completely unsuitable for anybody much less a child.”
She added: “These statistics show that with more people becoming homeless, more people stuck in the system for longer and more people likely to become homeless as the cost of living crisis bites, Scotland’s homelessness system is now on the brink of failure.
“That is why we are calling on the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon to lead a new national initiative to ensure every council has the homes they need and to guarantee the legal rights of everyone in Scotland to a safe home if they find themselves homeless.”