Homelessness Levels A 'Badge Of Shame'

5 September 2016, 11:30 | Updated: 5 September 2016, 11:35

The levels of homelessness in Scotland are a "national badge of shame'', according to a housing charity.

Shelter accused local and national government of taking "their eye off the ball in recent years'' on efforts to tackle and prevent homelessness.

It comes as a poll commissioned by the charity found 54% of Scots believe government could do more to tackle the problem.

Shelter said nearly 30,000 households became homeless last year and more than 65,000 approached local authorities for help.

A drive to improve housing and support for those who lose their home has now been launched by the charity.

Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: "It is frankly a disgrace that homelessness still exists in Scotland today.

"We are one of the richest nations in the world yet nearly 30,000 households became homeless last year and more than 65,000 households approached their local authority for help with housing.

"Shelter Scotland thinks that the time for good rhetoric and resting on our laurels is over.

"We need to face up to the reality that despite good progress in recent years, we are still failing too many people in our society, particularly the most vulnerable, with the most basic of human rights, the right to shelter and a home.

"It is time for bold action and the Scottish people agree with us. Across Scotland, 75% of people think that homelessness is a problem today and 54% agree that the Scottish Government could do more to tackle homelessness.''

He added: "We are demanding that national and local government do more to tackle homelessness in Scotland.

"We want to see a safe and secure home for everyone, a strong housing safety net to catch people when they do become homeless, to make sure preventative help is available for people to keep and find a home, and we want to ensure that no-one should ever have to sleep rough on Scotland's streets.''

A Scottish Government spokesman said it supports the campaign and is doing "everything it can'' to make sure everyone has access to a warm and safe place to stay.

He added: "We provide funding and work with local authorities to help prevent homelessness and ensure the strong housing rights homeless people have in law are delivered. Furthermore, our action through the Tenancies Bill is supported by Shelter.

"The most recent figures show a decrease in the number of applications and households assessed as homeless.

"Along with our partners, we have made clear our concerns to the UK Government about the potential undermining of this progress, due to its proposed changes to the funding of temporary and some supported accommodation.

"We're also increasing housing supply and are committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes backed by over #3 billion investment during the lifetime of this parliament.

"Meanwhile, we're asking organisations like Shelter to take part in our social security consultation, which will be the foundation for how we use our new welfare powers.''