SNP 'Failing' Under-18s On Council Housing Lists

Almost 6,000 children are on waiting lists for council housing, figures have revealed.

The data was obtained through a Freedom of Information request lodged by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who branded the level of housing available for social rent a "disgrace''.

According to the data, 5,804 youngsters under the age of 18 were on Scottish councils' waiting lists at the start of October.

In total, there were 138,164 applications on the councils' registers, the figures showed.

The party accused the SNP Government of "failing'' the children on the lists and said it must "ramp up its efforts to tackle Scotland's housing crisis''.

Lib Dem housing spokesman Jim Hume said: "The lack of housing available for social rent in this country is a disgrace and ministers should be ashamed of themselves. The SNP has muddied the waters on housing by backtracking on election promises and Scots and their children are paying the price.''

The figures emerged after a Freedom of Information request from the Lib Dems revealed that there were 1,000 more children without a permanent home in Scotland at Christmas 2014 compared with the previous year. In total, 10,695 people under 18 presented as homeless on Christmas Day last year across the country - up on 9,665 in 2013.

Mr Hume added: "The Scottish Liberal Democrats believe children need the best start in life. This cannot be achieved if there is uncertainty about whether they'll even have a roof over their heads.

"Last week we discovered 30,000 children have been homeless on Christmas Day over the past three years. When you put that figure with the 6,000 children currently on council house waiting lists, it paints a very bleak picture for young people needing support as they grow up in Scotland.''

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said preventing people from experiencing homelessness is a priority for the Scottish Government.

"We have seen the overall number of homeless applications fall for six consecutive years, but it is too important an issue for complacency,'' she said.

"For that reason we have committed an increase of £90 million of direct capital investment in affordable housing, including homes for social rent, to accelerate the housing supply programme as part of our pledge to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes over the next five years.

"Against a challenging financial background we have exceeded our target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes during this parliament, backed by more than £1.7 billion of investment - including more than 20,000 for social rent.

"In addition, the Empty Homes Partnership has brought more than 900 homes back into use since 2010 and our Town Centre Empty Homes Fund will help revamp 10 derelict spaces, producing 62 homes for social rent, 11 homes for intermediate rent and 14 new homes for affordable sale.

"We are working closely with local authorities and across the housing sector to prevent homelessness and ensure everyone has access to a warm and safe place to stay.

"Council housing lists are falling in Scotland. There were 174,000 household applicants held on local authority or common housing register lists in March 2015, a 13% decrease since 2007 when the figure was 199,000.''

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