A housing and homelessness charity has urged the Scottish Government to prioritise the needs of homeless children in Scotland when it delivers its budget on Monday.
Following the SFHA and Poverty Alliance’s calls for £700m to be restored to the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, Shelter Scotland said ministers must ringfence additional funding to deliver social homes for children who have been trapped in temporary accommodation the longest because of the lack of larger family sized social homes available.
The charity is calling for a new dedicated, ringfenced Housing Emergency Acquisition Fund of £300m to procure social homes for the 1,910 households with children who have been stuck in temporary homeless accommodation for more than a year.
Shelter Scotland’s call is in line with the recommendations of an expert group set up by the Scottish Government to consider how to reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation and is backed by children’s charity Aberlour.
Shelter Scotland Director Alison Watson said: “The only way to bring Scotland’s housing emergency to an end is through social housing, and the Scottish Government know that.
“In the last budget funding for social homes was slashed and it’s no surprise that the latest figures show social housing delivery is in a tailspin.
“If ministers choose not to invest in social housing, prioritising other areas of capital expenditure instead, then they are accepting more and more children will be stuck in often miserable temporary accommodation for increasing lengths of time – denied their right to somewhere safe and secure to call home.
“Record numbers of children in Scotland are homeless, nearly 2,000 households with kids having been stuck in temporary accommodation for more than a year, Scotland’s two largest cities have declared a housing emergency – there is no excuse for inaction.
“Of course, we accept there are budget pressures but if the Scottish Government wants to be taken seriously when it tells us it’s still committed to tackling child poverty then it needs to prove its serious about ending child homelessness.
“They can do that by prioritising homes for those children who’ve been without one for far too long – they can’t afford to wait any longer. “
Aberlour CEO SallyAnn Kelly added: “That so many children and their families in Scotland are living in temporary and unsuitable accommodation is a national failure.
“Adequate, safe and secure permanent housing is crucial to the wellbeing of families.
“Tackling child poverty must include tackling the housing emergency and guaranteeing social homes for our poorest families.
“The Scottish Government must commit to a ring-fenced fund to provide the necessary investment and speed up the pace of building new social homes.
“But this will only be effective as part of an integrated planning approach to support those families across Scotland most in need.”
Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Scotland is facing the most challenging budget settlement since devolution because of sustained high inflation and a UK Government autumn statement that failed to deliver the investment needed in Scotland’s public services.
“Scotland has the strongest rights in the UK for those who become homeless, but we will continue to ensure temporary accommodation is exactly that – temporary. We will invest £60m to help local authorities and registered social landlords acquire properties for use as high quality, affordable, permanent homes, as part of our wider Affordable Housing Supply Programme investment of £752m this year.
“The Scottish Government recognises these are exceptionally challenging times and we are absolutely determined to address levels of homelessness and improve the supply of social and affordable housing.”
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