Calls for action after 14,000 children left homeless last Christmas

The figures on homelessness applications in Christmas 2021 were obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Scottish Government urged to act after almost 14,000 children left homeless last Christmas iStock

There were almost 14,000 children without a home last Christmas, new figures have revealed.

Live applications for homelessness amounted to 25,458, which included 29,196 adults and 13,876 children on December 25, 2021.

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.

The figures, which were obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through a parliamentary question, have resulted in fresh calls for reform to homelessness strategy.

The party have called for the Scottish Government to change policy, including committing to building 60,000 affordable homes – 40,000 of which should be for social rent.

The party have also called for new legislation to strengthen the duties on public bodies to prevent homelessness, help-to-renovate loans to bring derelict buildings back into use and re-establish social renting as a valid long-term option for people.

There are also calls for work to support young homeless people to put in place including linking jobs and training opportunities to housing.

Lib Dem housing spokesperson Paul McGarry, who was made homeless himself at 16, has led the calls.

The MSP 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.”

In response, a Scottish Government said: “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 the delivery of affordable housing across the UK.”

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