Scotland's homeless cases at highest level ever recorded

The number of children in temporary accommodation has risen by 8% to nearly 10,000.

There are more open homelessness cases in Scotland now than at any point on record, newly-released figures have revealed.

Live applications surged by 10% between April and September 2023 to a high of 30,129.

That’s up from just over 28,000 in the same period the year before and is the highest figure since records began in 2002.

The figures also show that 20,144 people submitted homelessness applications in just six months last year, representing a yearly rise of 3%.

Official statistics released by the Scottish Government on Tuesday showed homelessness is rising across several key metrics in the country.

There are big increases in the numbers living in temporary accommodation with 15,625 households and 9,860 children in such housing – an 8% rise on the year before.

Hundreds more children are being forced into temporary accommodation in Scotland.iStock

At the same time, there was a four-fold increase in the number of households not being offered temporary accommodation in Scotland.

Between April and September 2023, 1,575 households were turned away, compared with 345 the year before. Glasgow represented 1,355 of these cases.

The figures come hours before Holyrood is set to vote through the Scottish budget which slashed funding for social housing.

Campaingers have described this as a “hammer blow” to the Government’s aims of reducing poverty.

Meanwhile, several councils have already declared housing emergencies, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Argyll and Bute.

Rising homeless figures come as the Scottish Government is cutting the social housing budget.STV News

The number of people who applied for homelessness assistance between April and September last year having slept rough the night before was also the highest since at least 2020, at 888 – an increase of 23% from the same period the previous year.

Applications from people who reported having slept rough in the last three months was 1,408 – a 20% increase from the previous year.

However, the Scottish Government’s official statistics also show the number of homeless households from a private tenancy has been slashed by nearly a third.

In September of 2023, some 3,010 households from a private tenancy were homeless compared to 2,185 the year later.

The Scottish Government said this was likely due to emergency cost of living legislation to protect renters introduced in 2022.

Shelter Scotland director, Alison Watson, said: “The Scottish Government’s strategies for housing and homelessness are failing and any attempt to say otherwise is starting to feel like an attempt to gaslight the Scottish public. 

“The Scottish Government can’t claim to be determined to fight poverty while presiding over record homelessness, repeatedly deprioritising housing in its spending choices, and ploughing ahead with a strategy which today’s figures once again clearly show isn’t working. 

“Local authorities are breaking the law on an industrial scale every day and yet there’s no new plans, no new money, and no new leadership to meet the scale of the emergency.”

Matt Downie, chief executive of the charity Crisis, said it is “deeply worrying” to see a rise in rough sleeping, and he urged the Scottish Government to take action through its upcoming housing bill.

Housing minister Paul McLennan said the homelessness figures were 'sobering'.STV News

Housing minister Paul McLennan said: “These figures are sobering and demonstrate the challenge we face in tackling homelessness, which has been made worse by the UK Government’s local housing allowance freeze, cuts to the Scottish Government’s budget and the bedroom tax.

“Despite this, Scotland continues to have the strongest rights anywhere in the UK for anyone who becomes homeless but we are determined to ensure no one need become homeless in the first place and ensure people can stay in their homes.

“I regularly engage with Scotland’s local authorities and work with them find solutions to the housing pressures they are facing. The Scottish Government is doing all it can by making record funding available to councils of more than £14bn in 2024-25 – a real-terms increase of 4.3% compared with the previous year.

“This includes £30.5m to local authorities to support their work to prevent homelessness, plus £90.5m to spend on discretionary housing payments. We are also investing £100m in the multi-year ending homelessness together fund.”

MSPs have the final vote on the Scottish Government’s Budget on Tuesday, just hours after the publication of the figures, with housing funding facing a near-£200 million cut.

Scottish Conservative housing spokesman Miles Briggs said the cut will “only make this grim situation even worse”, adding: “Those ministers must urgently rethink those cuts, finally declare a national housing emergency and get a grip of this deepening crisis.

“It is clear that SNP-Green ministers have lost control of the housing emergency and are simply burying their heads in the sand.”

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