Number of homeless families in bed and breakfasts on rise in city

Have your say

THE number of families in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh has shot up, with more homeless people being housed in bed and breakfasts than anywhere else in Scotland.

New figures also show the Capital had the most homeless people sleeping rough and hundreds of households living under threat of eviction. And although there was a slight fall in the city’s homeless total, campaign group Shelter Scotland said Edinburgh was not doing enough to meet the legal obligation, which will come in next year, to find a home for everyone who is unintentionally homeless.

The statistics show that 750 city households, including 285 with children, were in temporary accommodation at March 31 this year, compared with 661 on the same day in 2010.

And 270 of those households were being put up in B&Bs, by far the largest number of any local authority. Edinburgh also had the highest incidence of rough sleeping with 512 people saying they had slept rough the night before they applied for help – 11 per cent of all applicants, compared with under four per cent in Glasgow.

Homeless applications in Edinburgh fell from 4645 in 2009-10 to 4531 in 2010-11. And of these, 3748 – or 82.7 per cent of the total – were accepted as “priority” and therefore legally entitled to accommodation.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Edinburgh City Council has failed to maintain progress as it works towards the 2012 homelessness commitment.

“We know times are tough and local authorities are under increasing pressure, but meeting the 2012 commitment is not a choice, it’s a legislative requirement that cannot be shirked.

“With just over a year to go until December 31, 2012, those councils who are failing to deliver need to take urgent action or Scottish Ministers should intervene.”

Shelter Scotland’s head of policy, Gordon MacRae, said it was inevitable that increased rights for homeless people meant more households finding themselves in temporary accommodation. But he said: “There is a chronic shortage of both temporary and permanent affordable housing.

“Bed and breakfast has a role to play in emergency situations but it is expensive for taxpayers and not good for tenants trying to rebuild their lives.”

A council spokesman said: “The council and its partners are increasingly focused on preventing homelessness and despite having an acute shortage of affordable housing, Edinburgh has fewer households in temporary accommodation than most other Scottish local authorities. Only 0.34 per cent of households in Edinburgh are in temporary accommodation compared to 0.47 per cent in the rest of the country.

“Quarterly statistics are misleading and vary from quarter to quarter and it is confusing to draw any conclusion from comparing just two unrelated figures. The number of homeless people reporting that they have slept rough has halved since their high point in 2003-04.”