‘Worrying’ homelessness statistics revealed

THE number of households and children living in temporary accommodation in Scotland is at its highest, since records began in 2002 – according to figures revealing a broadly worsening ‘homelessness’ picture, released by the Scottish Government.

Says, the government, here, the number of children in temporary accommodation has increased to 9,595 in March this year from 8,805 in March last year (an increase of nine per cent). This compares to 7,355 at March 31 2020.

The figures also reveal that there were 39,006 applications for ‘homelessness assistance’ – an increase of 3,247 (nine per cent) compared with 2021-22, and higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic (37,053 in 2019-20).

In a media announcement, Scottish Government Housing Minister, Paul McLennan, is quoted as saying: “Today’s statistics are deeply worrying. They show Scotland is facing the same trend as the rest of the UK where there is a clear impact on households of the current cost-of-living crisis and the continuing fall out from the pandemic on homelessness.

“Tackling homelessness is a key priority and it is critical that local government and other partners work with us to reach our shared goal of reversing these figures and delivering on our long-term strategy for tackling homelessness.”

Among other findings (here):

  • There were 32,242 households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness – an increase of 2,903 (ten per cent) compared to 2021-22, also higher than pre-pandemic (31,618 in 2019-20);
  • There were 15,039 households in temporary accommodation at March 31 this year – a six per cent increase compared with 14,214 at March 31 last year. This compares to 11,807 at March 31 2020;
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation has increased to 9,595 in March 2023 from 8,805 in March 2022 (nine per cent). This compares to 7,355 at March 31 2020;
  • Households becoming homeless from a private rented tenancy have been reacting to legislation changes. There was a low of 3,049 in 2020-21, following emergency COVID-19 legislation (11 per cent of all homeless households). Since this was lifted in May 2021, numbers have been increasing, reaching 2,990 across the first six months of 2022-23 alone (19 per cent of all homeless households). However, the cost of living legislation introduced in October 2022 to protect renters resulted in a drop to 2,200 for the second six months of 2022-23 (13 per cent of all homeless households);
  • There has been an increase in rough sleeping, with 2,438 households reporting rough sleeping during the previous three months and 1,500 the night before the application. These remain lower than pre-pandemic and are the same proportions of all applications as the previous year (six per cent and four per cent respectively);
  • Homelessness applications that closed in 2022-23 which used temporary accommodation spent 223 days in temporary accommodation on average. This increased from 214 days in 2021-22 and 175 days in 2017-18, when the time series started;
  • There were 445 instances of households not being offered temporary accommodation. This is a decrease of 38 per cent compared to 2021-22. Almost all of these (420) were in Edinburgh;
  • 83 per cent of households assessed as ‘unintentionally homeless’ secured settled accommodation in 2022-23, increasing from 82 per cent in 2021-22;
  • The average length of time to close a homelessness case has been increasing over time and reached an average of 266 days in 2022-23. This compares to 262 days in 2021-22 and 226 in 2019-20;
  • Of the 32,242 homeless households: 62 per cent of applicants were aged 25 to 49; 66 per cent were single person households; 85 per cent of applicants were of White ethnicity; and 51 per cent of applicants had at least one support need; and
  • There were 275 applications nationally which reported being from a Ukrainian displaced household, this accounts for 0.7 per cent of the total.

Picture credit: Place Design Scotland

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