Total of 43,000 Scots were homeless last Christmas, new figures reveal

Total of 43,000 Scots were homeless last Christmas, new figures reveal

A total of 43,000 Scots were homeless last Christmas, according to the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to local councils across Scotland.

As of 25th December 2021, there were25,458 live homelessness applications, covering 29,196 adults and 13,876 children in Scotland.

The local authority with the highest number of homelessness applications was Edinburgh with 5,470 live applications covering 6,532 adults and 3,379 children.
Glasgow, Fife and West Lothian also each recorded more than 2,000 homeless individuals.

In light of the figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Paul McGarry demanded that the SNP set out fresh plans to tackle homelessness.

He has called upon the Scottish Government to take forward the Housing First and Rapid Rehousing principles to end rough sleeping and homelessness, by providing both housing and other support services to individuals in need.

He has also urged Holyrood to:

  • Address the additional challenges for young homeless people with special pathways to link suitable jobs and training to housing.
  • Bring forward new legislation which would strengthen the duties on public bodies to prevent homelessness.
  • Offer help to renovate loans to bring derelict homes back into use.
  • Build 60,000 affordable homes to help address homelessness, including 40,000 for social rent – a more ambitious target than the SNP/Green Government’s target.
  • Increase the number of homes constructed for social rent and re-establish social renting as a valid long-term option for people.

Mr McGarry said: “At Christmas time most of us take for granted that we will be comfortable and secure with a roof over our heads.

“These figures show that tens of thousands of Scots are not so lucky. Many will be trapped in unstable situations, sofa-surfing or even living on the streets.

“This year temporary council accommodation is more stretched than ever. Living without a secure home takes a huge toll on people’s mental and physical health. It also sets back children’s development in a way that can leave them worse off for life.

“After a decade and a half in charge, the SNP have barely made a dent. It’s time to get to work building thousands more social homes across Scotland, offering new help to renovate loans to bring derelict homes back into use and strengthen our commitment to ending homelessness across Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson commented: “Scotland has some of the strongest homelessness legislation in the world and key national bodies in the homelessness sector support the joint Scottish Government/cosla Ending Homelessness Together action plan.

“We are introducing new homelessness prevention duties in the forthcoming housing Bill and we continue to support local authorities to develop Housing First programmes.

“A recent evaluation of Scotland’s Housing First pathfinder programme saw 579 people with experience of homelessness and multiple disadvantage receive keys to a new home and a new life.

“Our latest annual progress report shows that the number of people sleeping rough in Scotland continues to fall. We have taken important steps towards strengthening rights for tenants and preventing homelessness, and Scotland has led the way in affordable housing across the UK.”

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