Scotland

Cut in number of homeless in Scotland

Homeless Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were about 35,000 homelessness applications in 2015/16

The number of people in Scotland assessed as homeless or under the threat of being homeless went down by 5% in 2015/16, official figures showed.

Scotland's chief statistician said there had also been a 4% reduction in homelessness applications compared to the previous year.

However, there was a rise in the number of children in temporary accommodation.

The Scottish government said it wanted to work to reduce homelessness even further.

The Homelessness and Housing Options Statistics report found there were 28,000 cases in Scotland assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Of these, 25,000 cases were judged to be "unintentionally homeless" and therefore with a right to settled accommodation. About two-thirds secured this accommodation, mainly through the social or private rented sector.

Scottish local authorities said they received about 35,000 homelessness applications during 2015/16.

There has been no change in the number of households in temporary accommodation.

Shelter Scotland said the statistics showed 591 more children were homeless and living in temporary accommodation in 2015/16 than the year before.

The organisation's head of communications and policy, Adam Lang, called the figures "worrying" and said they should set "alarm bells ringing" when combined with the 220,000 children living in poverty in Scotland.

He added: "The impact of poverty and homelessness on children's health and life chances can be devastating. Children living in temporary accommodation can miss up to 55 school days a year, that's a quarter of the school year.

"If Scotland is serious about tackling child poverty and closing the educational attainment gap, then ministers must act now to ensure that all children in Scotland have access to a safe, secure and affordable home."

Shelter Scotland also said Scotland needed a "major step change in the supply of new affordable homes".

'Settled home'

Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the decrease in homelessness and said the government was doing all it could to make sure everyone had access to a "warm and safe place to stay".

"It is, however, our aim to stop people becoming homeless in the first place which is much better for our people and our communities, and of course our homelessness services," he said.

"While there are many reasons for families staying in temporary accommodation, I am disappointed in the increase in the number of children in temporary accommodation.

"Although the majority of temporary accommodation is good quality, well managed social housing which is of the exact same standard as permanent accommodation, I am keen to see these numbers decrease and people to have a settled home."

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