Homelessness in Scotland - Topic Briefing

By: Shelter Scotland
Published: July 2019

Homelesness in Scotland - Topic Briefing

Last year Shelter Scotland helped thousands of people across Scotland who were homeless or facing homelessness. We are increasingly concerned about the distressing situations some of our clients are in and particularly the barriers they are facing in accessing the services and accommodation they are legally entitled to.

• This briefing considers the recent developments in the homelessness system and puts forward Shelter Scotland’s position on these, bearing in mind the experiences of our clients.

• In 2018-19, 36,465 homeless applications were made to local authorities, which is the second rise in ten years.

• This suggests that the impact of the Housing Options approach to prevent homelessness is ceasing to have an effect, and that the cause of people’s homelessness is increasingly due to structural problems such as affordability and supply.

• The use of temporary accommodation is also rising: on the 31 st March 2019, there were 10,989 households in temporary accommodation, including 6,795 children. This is an increase of 56 and 180 respectively, compared to the same date in 2018.

• Households are spending longer periods of time in temporary accommodation, on average 180 days.

• The Scottish Government included homelessness as a priority in its Programme for Government in 20172 and shortly after convened the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group in September 2017.

• The Local Government and Communities Committee also carried out a year-long inquiry into homelessness3 which began in February 2017.

• The Scottish Government condensed the recommendations from these two workstreams and alongside COSLA, eventually produced the Ending Homelessness Together High Level Action Plan4 in November 2018. This is the strategy for how they intend to effectively end homelessness in Scotland.

• Shelter Scotland believes that the following areas are absolutely critical to successfully tackling homelessness:
o bold actions on the prevention of homelessness
o the improvement of temporary accommodation
o the provision of good quality support, and
o a strong, sustained programme of affordable housebuilding.