5000 Homeless Children In Scotland

5 April 2016, 16:11

Almost 5,000 children in Scotland were homeless and living in temporary accommodation at the end of 2015, official figures have revealed.

The latest quarterly statistics on homelessness showed that on December 31 there were 10,467 individuals and families who were homeless and living somewhere on a temporary basis, a rise of 2% on December 2014.

Over the same period, the number of children in this situation increased by 543 to 4,876 - a rise of 13%.

Housing campaigners and opposition politicians branded the rise in homeless youngsters living in temporary accommodation - which can include council homes, hostels and B&Bs - as "simply unacceptable''.

Overall, the data from Scotland's Chief Statistician showed local authorities received 7,600 applications for help from homeless individuals and families in the period October 1 to December 31 2015, a drop of 5% from the previous year.

Families with children made up 26% of all homeless households in temporary accommodation, with six families with either children or a pregnant woman living in bed and breakfast accommodation at the end of December.

Three of these were in East Lothian and there were one household each in Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire and Midlothian, according to the data.

Graeme Brown, director of housing charity Shelter Scotland, said: "This is the third annual rise in the number of homeless children in Scotland. A 13% rise is simply unacceptable in 21st century Scotland.''

He argued the figures provided "further evidence of the need for a political commitment to a major house-building programme to deliver 12,000 new affordable homes each year for the next five years''.

Mr Brown also argued there needs to be a new national homelessness strategy for Scotland and improved access to good-quality temporary accommodation.

John Sparkes, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis, said: "The next Scottish Government must take action to ensure that unsuitable temporary accommodation is used only as a last resort and that homeless people can move swiftly into suitable, permanent housing.''

Scottish Labour communities spokesman Ken Macintosh said: "This rise in the number of homeless children will simply shock Scotland. For the figure to be 13% higher than last year is simply unacceptable.

"This is the third straight annual rise and is yet more evidence that in their nine years in power, the SNP have turned a housing shortage into a housing crisis.

"It's clear that we need a major house building programme - Labour is the only party committed to Shelter Scotland's target of 60,000 homes over the next five years.''

Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Jim Hume said: "The fact that this was the third year in a row the number of children forced to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation increased is testament to the SNP's failure to address fundamental shortfalls in housing.

"By breaking their pledge to build 30,000 new homes for social rent, the SNP failed those families who are unlikely to be able to secure a mortgage to buy their own property or struggle to afford private rents.''