Homelessness down but children in temporary accommodation up 15 per cent

youth-homeless-bannerThe number of children in temporary accommodation in Scotland has increased by 626 in a year, official figures have shown.

The quarterly Homelessness in Scotland bulletin from Scotland’s Chief Statistician found that 4,896 children were in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2015 – an increase of 15 per cent from the same period last year.

Overall, there were 10,666 households in temporary homelessness accommodation as at 30 June 2015 – an increase of 472 households (+5 per cent) compared with one year earlier. Over a quarter (2,805 households) were households with children - an increase of 272 households (+11 per cent).

There was a reduction in homelessness as the number of applications for assistance received from Scottish local authorities received during April to June 2015 was around 8,500, 7 per cent lower than in the same period in 2014.

In addition to the fall in applications, the number assessed as homeless, or likely to become homeless within two months, fell by around 1,100 (-14 per cent) to 6,600.

Outcomes for those entitled to settled accommodation were maintained, with around four out of five securing settled accommodation – including a Local Authority, housing association or private let as an outcome. This proportion has remained stable since 2007.

Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland director, Annie Mauger, said welfare reform is making it harder to find an affordable home.

She said: “Welfare reform and the benefit cap in particular are reducing the amounts available to benefit claimants to cover rent making it increasingly difficult for people to find a suitable, affordable home in the private rented sector. Recent figures show a growing proportion of homeless applications coming from people previously living in the private rented sector.

“With proposals to devolve significant welfare powers under the Scotland Bill 2015-16, and commitment from the Scottish Government to create a more secure tenancy for private renters, there is an opportunity to work towards resolving this issue. We also need to ease pressure on the rented sector more generally by building many more genuinely affordable new homes.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said the five per cent increase in the number of households forced to stay in temporary accommodation “is simply not good enough”.

He said: “While it is welcome news that the overall number of people being assessed as homeless has continued to decrease, these figures indicate a growing bottleneck of people stuck in temporary accommodation due to the huge lack of affordable housing, which is a major cause for concern.

“Alarm bells should be ringing that Scotland may be slipping back on the progress it has made on tackling homelessness post devolution.

“Now is the time for bold and renewed action. The Scottish Government needs to ensure that a major affordable house-building programme is implemented before things get even worse.”

Graeme Brown added: “Earlier this year the Commission on Housing and Wellbeing reported that homeless children missed an average of 55 school days per year due to their home situation, impacting their education, health and life chances. So the real tragedy of these figures is the 626 extra children being forced to live in temporary accommodation. We must make major changes now so that no child has to suffer the trauma of homelessness in the future.”

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