Welfare reforms ‘raise homelessness risk’

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Scotland’s falling rates of homelessness could be under threat over the coming years from welfare reforms, the prolonged recession and a tightening supply of affordable housing, a report has found.

The Homelessness Monitor, a major study by Heriot-Watt University and the University of York, published by homelessness charity Crisis, says the decline is threatened by underlying housing pressures, with trends in “hidden homelessness” showing a more mixed picture.

Recorded homelessness is in decline north of the Border, bucking the UK trend, which has seen a dramatic rise.

Statutory homelessness applications in Scotland have fallen by 19 per cent over the past year, dropping from 55,663 in 2010-11 to 45,322 in 2011-12. Rough sleeping is also decreasing.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “The coalition is sweeping away the welfare safety nets – particularly housing benefit – that have traditionally saved people from the horrors of homelessness.

“The Scottish Government and councils will need to ensure homelessness and housing remains a spending priority”.