Scottish councils spent £750m on temporary housing in last five years

Edinburgh aerialLocal authorities is Scotland have spent more than £750 million on temporary accommodation for homeless families in the last five years, according to new statistics.

The data was obtained by the BBC as part of a wider investigation which found that the amount spent on temporary accommodation by councils across Britain was over £3.5 billion over the same period.

In that time the annual cost has risen 43 per cent, with councils spending £851m on temporary housing in 2015 alone.

Temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfasts, hostels and private rented accommodation, is provided to households that councils accept are homeless, but the criteria for who is eligible varies between nations.

Most of the cost - and the increase - has occurred in the overheated London housing market, figures obtained by the BBC through the Freedom of Information Act show.

Almost two thirds of the £3.5bn (61 per cent) has been spent in the capital, while 85 per cent of the increase in costs since 2011-12 also occurred there.

Just 10 London boroughs accounted for two thirds of the total increase in spending over the past four years.

Scotland spent more on temporary accommodation (£750m) than England when London is excluded (£578m).

Total spending by Scottish councils has remained fairly constant since 2011-12, at around £150m a year.

While the number of homeless people in Scotland has fallen slightly in recent years, a lack of stock is leaving families staying in temporary accommodation for longer.

In Wales £45m was spent over the period, with annual spending decreasing by 26 per cent over the five years from £9m to £7m.

The fall in Wales coincides with a change in policy in the country that has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of households accepted as homeless, with councils working harder to prevent tenancies ending.

In 2014 Wales passed a Housing Act that put more responsibility on councils to prevent homelessness rather than placing people in temporary accommodation.

Figures for Northern Ireland have been excluded, as the country has a different system for temporary housing.

Homeless charity Crisis said the number of people in temporary accommodation was rising at an “alarming rate”.

“More and more people are finding themselves in desperate circumstances,” said Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis.

“Prevention is better than cure, and for homeless people this is especially so.

“It has already been shown to work in Wales. We now need similar change in England.

“The Homelessness Reduction Bill currently making its way through Parliament aims to do just that.”

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