Ministers ‘still have heads in the sand’ on homelessness, says Shelter Scotland

Ministers 'still have heads in the sand' on homelessness, says Shelter Scotland

Shelter Scotland director Alison Watson

Shelter Scotland has claimed that ministers still have their heads in the sand following the publication of the latest Ending Homelessness Together annual report.

Published last week, the annual report sets out the progress made in the last 12 months by national government, local government and third sector partners towards ending homelessness in Scotland.

Highlighting a difficult year for the housing and homelessness sectors, coming at a time of cost of living pressures; higher inflation, rents and interest rates; and the continuing conflict in Ukraine, the report follows Scotland’s latest homelessness statistics which revealed that more people are making applications for homelessness assistance and many households are spending far too long in temporary accommodation.

The Scottish Housing Regulator’s thematic review on homelessness services warned of an emerging risk of systemic failure in homelessness services in some areas and SOLACE Scotland, which represents local authority chief executives, has highlighted the unsustainable pressure on local authority housing.

Shelter Scotland said the report once again shows the Scottish Government has failed to grasp the scale of the housing emergency and doesn’t have an adequate plan to deal with it.

The housing and homelessness charity has been campaigning for the Scottish Government to formally declare a housing emergency, backed up with a comprehensive action plan to fix the country’s broken and biased housing system.

Shelter Scotland director, Alison Watson, said: “An emergency situation demands an emergency response, but this report suggests ministers still have their heads in the sand.

“It looks back on a year in which the Scottish Government has overseen a huge increase in the number of people becoming homeless, when the number of kids stuck in temporary accommodation hit record levels, and it offers no indication that next year will be any better.

“It celebrates the housing minister ‘raising public awareness’ of homelessness – we are well beyond the point where that’s something worthy of applause.

“His job isn’t to raise awareness of homelessness; his job is to end it.

“Across Scotland, people are suffering through this housing emergency, this report is a harsh reminder that their government don’t understand what they’re going through and aren’t prepared to take action to fix it.

“We don’t need more well-meaning tweets from politicians and government; we need to see a concrete plan for immediate action.”

Paul McLennan, minister for housing, said he is committed to giving housing and homelessness the support and attention it deserves.

He wrote in the report: “In the seven months since my appointment, I have met with a whole range of experts and people with lived and frontline experience of homelessness. I have heard moving personal stories from people who understand what works and I have been struck by the dedication and passion of those who work in the sector.

“Scotland wants to be a world leader when it comes to ending homelessness and we remain open to new ideas. As I found out during one of my very first engagements as a new minister, Glasgow is seen as a pioneer of Housing First in Europe. Turning Point Scotland imported the model from New York and the first Housing First pilot began operating in Glasgow in 2010. That innovative, collaborative spirit is Scotland’s strength.”

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