Scottish homelessness figures at 10 year low

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By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP Maureen Watt has welcomed statistics showing fewer people in Scotland are being made homeless – with reductions recorded in 28 of Scotland’s 32 council areas.  The figures are the lowest for a decade.

Official figures released on Tuesday show a 20 per cent decrease across Scotland in both homelessness applications and assessments between April and September 2011 compared to the same period the previous year.

There were 23,796 applications made to local authorities for assistance under homelessness legislation, and 24,209 homelessness assessments.  

The largest reductions were seen in Aberdeen City and the Scottish Borders, where there was a reduction of 56% in the number of people classed as homeless.  Falkirk saw a reduction of 53%, while reductions of 41% and 38% were recorded in Highland and East Lothian respectively.

The figures were welcomed by Shelter Scotland, the leading homelessness charity.  Director Graeme Brown said: “A 20% reduction in homeless applications compared to this time last year is great news and I congratulate the majority of local authorities across Scotland who have made huge progress on homelessness.

“This success should not blind us to the scale of Scotland’s ongoing housing crisis. Nearly 50,000 people still presented as homeless in the last 12 months so this progress needs to be a catalyst for even greater change.”

Ms Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine and convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, welcomed the statistics and said:

“These statistics show positive developments towards our aim of reaching the 2012 target of giving all unintentionally homeless people the right to a permanent home.

“It is extremely encouraging to see authorities including Aberdeen City, the Scottish Borders and Falkirk all recording over 50 per cent reductions in homelessness.

“This can be put down to good partnership working between central and local government and the hard work and dedication of council staff in developing services to help Scotland’s homeless should be praised.

“But it is vital we continue in this partnership working to put an end to this problem that has such a devastating effect on people’s lives.

“The SNP Government is dedicated to delivering 30,000 affordable homes in the next five years – including 20,000 for social rent – and making £710million available for housing.”