The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 17%

THE number of children in temporary accommodation in Scotland rose by 17% last year, according to new homelessness statistics.

Housing Minister Shona Robison said she was “deeply concerned” by the rise. She said councils needed to do more to help homeless families.

Figures from the National Records of Scotland reveal there were 8,635 under-18s in temporary homes in March 2022, up from 7,385 in March 2021 and 7,280 as of March 31, 2020.

Alarmingly, households with children are spending more time in temporary accommodation than those without, the new paper reveals.

Some 47% of households with children spent seven months or more in temporary accommodation compared to 38% of households without children.

Of the 46,964 people in the 28,882 registered homeless households in 2021/22, 14,372 were children.

The number of adults increased by 6%, while the number of children increased by 17% compared to 2020/21.

The figures also reveal that the lifting of Scotland’s emergency Covid ban on evictions has been linked to an increase in homelessness claims.

Of those who became homeless, 15% were from private rental, up from 11% in 2020-21, nearly reaching pre-pandemic proportions of 16%.

Scottish Government notes accompanying the statistics say that “the end of the ban on evictions imposed by COVID-19 emergency legislation, which was lifted on 17 May 2021” is a “contributing factor”.

The figures reveal that there has been a decrease in the number of people living rough, with 2,129 households reporting sleeping rough in the previous three months and 1,304 the night before enforcement.

Both levels are at their lowest level since 2002-03

Responding to the statistics, Ms Robison said: “These statistics remind us why our commitment to preventing and ending homelessness is so important, and show us that we still have work to do.

“While it is encouraging to see the street is at its lowest level in 20 years and repeat homelessness is at its lowest in a decade, I am deeply concerned about the increase in the number of children in temporary accommodation.

“It is all the more disappointing that 20 local authorities have managed to reduce the use of temporary accommodation.

“Two-thirds of families with children in temporary accommodation live in social rental accommodation, and many more in private rental accommodation, but we want them to have the stability of sedentary accommodation.

“We know the situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has resulted in a backlog for local authorities that needs to be resolved.

“This year we are providing councils with £23.5million for homelessness prevention and response measures, in addition to £8million to help them reduce the use of temporary accommodation by moving people in sedentary homes as quickly as possible.

“We know that local authorities are struggling to meet the needs and preferences of some households.

“But there needs to be a greater focus on families, especially in areas where the problem is most acute, and I have met with housing officials to discuss this further.

“I have also asked an expert group, chaired by Shelter Scotland and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, for an action plan to reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation, with a strong focus on households with children.

Matt Downie, Managing Director of Crisis, said: “These statistics should be a wake-up call. Scotland has made huge strides in tackling rough sleeping during the pandemic, but the fact that more people are spending longer periods stuck in temporary accommodation is totally unacceptable.

“We know how detrimental spending long periods in temporary accommodation can be, especially for children and young people. You have a roof over your head, but a B&B is not a house.

“People are stripped of their dignity and unable to plan for the future. But while temporary accommodation should be an emergency measure, it is too often treated as the default solution.

“The best way to end homelessness is to first prevent it from happening.

“By giving people support earlier and expanding responsibility for preventing homelessness, we can start to reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation and ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to call home. self.”

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, said ministers needed to pull themselves together.

He said: “One homeless individual or household in Scotland is one too many.

“Under the watch of the SNP, the number of people currently homeless is only going in the wrong direction. Ministers must own and take responsibility for their failures to ensure sufficiently safe housing for the most vulnerable.

“These issues will only get worse during the cost of living crisis which is hitting hard right now and will continue to do so in the weeks and months to come.

“Sleeping rough and homelessness are a blight on our communities across Scotland and for too long the SNP has failed to act. Crucial goals in housing construction, including housing social, have been missed year after year.

“Most shockingly, another 1,250 children are now in the uncertainty of living in temporary accommodation, which will cause them and their families tremendous anxiety.”

Scottish Labor Housing spokesman Mark Griffin described the figures as grim: “These grim figures underscore the need for urgent action before the cost of living crisis makes a bad situation worse.

“The SNP ignored warning after warning that it had created a precipice for tenants by removing protections without putting the necessary support in place.

“Now they are sleepwalking again towards disaster as long as they sit on their hands and ignore the problem.

“During the pandemic, we took emergency action to stop people losing their homes to the crisis – and now we have to do the same again.

“That’s why Scottish Labor is calling for an immediate rent freeze, support for tenants and a ban on winter evictions.”

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