Homelessness in Scotland at highest since records began

Last year, there were 28,944 open homelessness cases recorded

The number of people in Scotland who are classed as homeless has hit an all-time high, according to new figures released by the Scottish Government on Tuesday.

In September 2022, there were 28,944 open homelessness cases recorded, the highest since records began in 2002 and an 11% rise on the previous year.

The total number of households in temporary accommodation was also the highest on record at 14,458, a rise of 1% based on the same time in 2021.

The statistics showed 9,130 children were in temporary accommodation on September 30 of last year.

The figure has risen by 10% from the previous year, and is the highest since at least March 31 2019 – as far back as current records go – when the number was 6,795, a rise of 34%.

The total number of households in temporary accommodation was also the highest on record at 14,458, a rise of 1% based on the same time in 2021.

Between April and September of last year, there was a 6% rise in the number of homelessness applications compared to the same time in the previous year, rising from 17,992 to 19,066.

There was also a 6% rise in the number of people applying for homelessness support who said they had slept rough the previous night in the same period, rising from 692 to 733.

While the number of people who reported sleeping rough in the three months before their application rose by 7% from 1,104 to 1,184.

The Scottish Government’s housing secretary Shona Robison said: “These statistics are unacceptable and concerning.

“The number of households, and particularly children, in temporary accommodation in some council areas is too high and we are firmly committed to reducing it.

“That is why we commissioned an action plan from experts in the sector to reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation and the length of time spent there and the recommendations are expected shortly.

“Tackling homelessness and ending rough sleeping is our priority, and we are providing a total of £100m from our Ending Homelessness Together Fund to transform the homelessness system.

“We’re also providing local authorities with £30.5m for their work to prevent and respond to homelessness and they are making encouraging progress with the implementation of their rapid rehousing transition plans.”

The homelessness figures come as statistics published last week show a 13% drop in the number of new homes started by the housebuilding industry in the year up to the end of June 2022 – dropping to 19,060.

Scottish Conservative’s housing secretary Miles Briggs, said: “These figures are utterly disgraceful. The SNP-Green government are presiding over a homelessness crisis across Scotland, yet they are doing precious little to try to fix it. 

“Homelessness applications are soaring on their watch and are at their highest level since records began. That should be a source of shame for ministers.

“The number of children living in temporary accommodation is particularly troubling.

“It is completely unsustainable that so many young people are spending their formative years without having a permanent place to call home.

“These stats reaffirm why the Scottish Conservatives used Parliamentary time last week to expose the SNP-Green failures when it comes to housing and why they cannot pass the buck on this crisis. We called on SNP-Green Ministers to declare a housing emergency but Ministers have failed to act.

“We need to see urgent action from the SNP-Green government, otherwise we will continue to see a sharp increase in people becoming homeless in our communities.”

Shelter Scotland’s director, Alison Watson, said that the figures published on Tuesday must be a “wake up call” for Nicola Sturgeon.

She added: “The Scottish Government knows how to fix homelessness and the wider housing emergency in Scotland. 

“Over the years they have been presented with endless evidence and testimony that investing in social housing ends homelessness, tackles child poverty and is vital in tackling the housing emergency. 

“We must be clear; the Scottish Government have made a choice not to act on that evidence. 

“They have chosen to deprioritise social housing in their spending plans by disproportionately slashing that budget.  

“They know that this will mean more people in Scotland will become homeless, that the thousands of children currently trapped in temporary accommodation will have an even harder time finding somewhere permanent to call home.  

“It is not too late to recognise that these choices will have disastrous consequences for the fight against homelessness and reverse these cuts.” 

Citizens Advice Scotland spokesperson Aoife Deery said: “This is the horrifying impact of the cost of living crisis and the housing emergency. There is a serious risk these figures are the tip of the iceberg, as people can’t keep up with essential spending.

“Across the Citizens Advice network we have seen that advice on actual homelessness has been growing as a proportion of housing advice for the past few months. In fact homelessness advice in December 2022 was up 34% from December 2021 as a proportion of all homelessness advice.”

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