Homelessness figures fall in Scotland
Homelessness applications fell by 19 per cent and the number of households assessed as homeless by 15 per cent in Scotland in the past year.
In 2011/12 there were 45,322 applications in the country – 19 per cent lower than in 2010/11 – and 35,515 households were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness – a 15 per cent drop from 41,553 the year before. The number of homelessness applications was more than 55,300 in 2010/11.
The Scottish Government has attributed the drops to prevention strategies adopted by councils and the ‘housing options approach’, which the Scottish Government started funding in 2010 and allows local authorities to look at individuals’ options in the ‘widest sense’. The housing options approach features early intervention, explores all possible tenure options and will look at personal circumstances such as debt problems.
The Scottish figures are a stark contrast to those in England which came out earlier this month showing a 16 per cent rise homelessness acceptances (13,130) in the first quarter of this year from January to March year before.
The Scottish Government has invested £500,000 into the housing options funding programme and announced in April it will put in an additional £150,000.
Scottish Government housing minister Keith Brown said: ‘This reflects the commitment shown by local authorities and their partners to move to a focus on prevention rather than just reacting to people becoming homeless.
‘We will continue to drive forward that process to ensure that we can continue to make real reductions in the number of people being made homeless in Scotland.’
He said the Scottish Government was on course to meet its target of ‘ending homelessness’ – all unintentionally homeless people in settled accommodation – by the end of this year.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: ‘Whilst the national figure masks some of the significant variations between individual local authorities, an overall reduction can only be a good thing.
‘But let’s not forget that more than 45,000 homelessness applications were made with 35,000 assessed as homeless – so there’s no room for complacency, particularly given the prime minister’s speech yesterday when he suggested scrapping housing benefit for under 25s.’