Shelter demands ‘bold action’ to fight homelessness

Deputy Director of Shelter Scotland, Alison Watson at the campaign launch. Picture; John Devlin

Deputy Director of Shelter Scotland, Alison Watson at the campaign launch. Picture; John Devlin

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Levels of homelessness in Scotland are a “national badge of shame”, according to a housing charity.

Shelter accused local and national government of taking “their eye off the ball in recent years” on efforts to tackle and prevent homelessness.

The criticism comes as a poll commissioned by the charity found 54 per cent of Scots believe government could do more to tackle the problem.

In July, the Evening News revealed that a report by Shelter, commissioned by the city council, had found the number of people sleeping rough in Edinburgh had increased and was set to rise further, with spending cuts meaning vulnerable people would not get the help they needed.

Statistics show almost 4000 homelessness applications were made in Edinburgh in 2014-15.

And Kirk Moderator the Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr has said he is shocked at the number of homeless people in the Capital.

In the new report, launched in Glasgow, Shelter said nearly 30,000 households became homeless last year and more than 65,000 approached local authorities for help.

A drive to improve housing and support for those who lose their home has now been launched by the charity.

Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: “It is frankly a disgrace that homelessness still exists in Scotland today.

“We are one of the richest nations in the world yet we are still failing too many people in our society, particularly the most vulnerable, with the most basic of human rights, the right to shelter and a home.

“It is time for bold action and the Scottish people agree with us. Across Scotland, 75 per cent of people think that homelessness is a problem today and 54 per cent agree that the Scottish Government could do more to tackle homelessness.”

He added: “We are demanding that national and local government do more to tackle homelessness in Scotland.

“We want to see a safe and secure home for everyone, a strong housing safety net to catch people when they do become homeless, to make sure preventative help is available for people to keep and find a home, and we want to ensure that no-one should ever have to sleep rough on Scotland’s streets.”

The Scottish Government said it supported the campaign and was doing everything it could to make sure everyone has access to a warm and safe place to stay.

A spokesman said: “We provide funding and work with local authorities to help prevent homelessness and ensure the strong housing rights homeless people have in law are delivered. Furthermore, our action through the Tenancies Bill is supported by Shelter.

“The most recent figures show a decrease in the number of applications and households assessed as homeless.

“We’re also increasing housing supply and are committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes backed by over £3 billion investment during the lifetime of this parliament.”