Rise In Number Of Children Homeless At Christmas

21 December 2015, 08:05 | Updated: 21 December 2015, 08:08

There were 1,000 more children without a permanent home in Scotland last Christmas compared to the previous year, the latest figures show.

In total, 10,695 people under 18 presented as homeless on Christmas Day across the country - up on 9,665 in 2013.

The figures were released after a freedom of information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats which showed more than 100,000 adults and children were homeless on the past three Christmas days.

Over the three years, about 31,000 of that number were children.

Lib Dem housing spokesman Jim Hume said: "While there have been welcome decreases in some local authority areas, these figures show the appalling truth that thousands of people spent Christmas Day homeless over recent years.

"Many of them may have been placed in temporary accommodation, which is hardly a suitable way of tackling homelessness in the long-term.

"Children and adults in this country have the right to have a roof over their heads and no-one should have to spend a single day without a home.

"By backtracking on their manifesto pledge to build 6,000 homes each year for social rent, the SNP are failing these children and families who have nowhere else to go during the coldest months of the year.

"The Scottish Liberal Democrats want to build a fairer society where everyone has the warmth and safety of a home at all times of the year.

"That's why we'll keep pressing the Government to get a grip of the housing crisis in this country and call on them to accelerate their building programme for houses for social rent.''

Scottish Labour has also called for a homelessness strategy to be developed in 2016.

The party's communities spokesman Ken Macintosh said: "Homelessness can have a devastating impact on people's lives, on their health, their sense of worth and on their children's welfare and well-being.

"At Christmas time, there is something particularly upsetting about not having a place to call home yet this is the reality for thousands of Scots.

"This year we are seeing an increase in the number of children who will spend Christmas Day homeless. This problem is getting worse, not better.

"The bare minimum every Scot deserves from their government is a home and a fair chance. If we are serious about building a fairer Scotland, then we have to start by building more homes.

"But we can do more right now to help those in pressing need. The last Labour-led Scottish Government set a bold target on homelessness in 2003 but nearly thirteen years on we seem to have lost that that sense of purpose.

"We need a long-term strategy around homelessness and with a majority in parliament and more powers than ever before; I am calling on the SNP government to give that commitment and to go into 2016 showing the sort of determination that is required.''

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: "The overall number of homeless applications has fallen for six consecutive years and we have already exceeded our target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes during this parliament, including 20,000 for social rent.

"Preventing people from experiencing the misery of homelessness is a priority for us which is why we have ensured through legislation and regulations that the vast majority of homeless families in temporary accommodation in Scotland are in good quality, well-managed, furnished social housing and that the time spent there is as short as possible before moving to suitable settled accommodation.''

She said the Government would continue to "work closely'' with local authorities, housing associations and the private and voluntary sectors to prevent homelessness.