Charities Call for More Action to Tackle Homelessness in Scotland

December 10, 2015

The charity groups Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have called for more efforts to be made to tackle homelessness in Scotland.

Despite strong commitments having been made by the Scottish government in recent years to reduce the number of homeless people in the country, the charities have warned that there is much more that needs to be done.

A new report from the two organisations suggests that while there was a 5 per cent fall in the number of Scots categorised by local councils as being homeless last year the number seeking help from Housing Options services remained almost unchanged.

Jon Sparkes, Crisis’ chief executive, said in a statement: “The Scottish government has blazed a trail when it comes to tackling homelessness, but there’s no room for complacency.

“We’re calling for a new cross-departmental strategy to tackle homelessness and strengthen the role of prevention and early intervention, particularly for those affected by changes to the welfare system, and boost support for the hardest to help.”

Sparkes went on to say that he views young people in Scotland as being particularly vulnerable to the threat of homelessness in light of welfare reforms that cut housing benefit payments in some circumstances to people under the age of 35.

Julia Unwin from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said as part of the report that creating new and “genuinely affordable” homes around Scotland needs to be a central aspect of any effort to reduce homelessness around the country.

However, she warned that “reducing benefits before new homes are built and higher wages have the chance to plug the gap will leave many low-income households struggling to make ends meet”.

Research carried out by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for their report found that there are typically 660 people who sleep rough in Scotland every night and around 5,000 different individuals who sleep rough at some point each year.

The report also describes benefit sanctions as a “core concern for the homelessness sector in Scotland, affecting people’s ability to avoid or move on from homelessness”.

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