Everyone in Scotland should have a safe and warm place to call home. The Scottish Government works with local government and a range of partners to ensure that tackling homelessness remains a priority; Shelter Scotland have been one of the partners involved for a number of years.
This month Shelter launched a new awareness campaign, putting tackling homelessness firmly in the spotlight. The key aims of the campaign are to ensure: a safe and affordable home for everyone; help is available for everyone to keep or find a home; a strong housing safety net to catch people if they do lose their home; no one should ever have to sleep rough on Scotland’s streets
I agree with every one of those points and there is a lot of work underway to ensure all are met.
We are 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.
We are also working to ensure the best possible services for homeless people and those who may be at risk of homelessness.
We are providing funding and working with local authorities to help prevent homelessness and ensure the strong housing rights homeless people have in law are delivered.
Recent figures show thousands of people have approached local authorities for housing advice which has meant early action could be taken to provide a housing solution. The most recent figures also show that progress is being made and there has been a 6% decrease in the number of households assessed as homeless.
Another key aspect of our response to homelessness is the provision of temporary accommodation for those who need it. Temporary accommodation is part of the safety net of the homelessness legislation and ensures people have somewhere to stay if made homeless. And we are committed to ensuring all temporary accommodation is the same standard as permanent accommodation in the social rented sector.
The most visible aspect of homelessness is those who sleep rough, and we are working with stakeholders to ensure we have better information to help address this issue. We recognise that some rough sleeping may result from complex needs that require more than just providing accommodation, so we are working with partners across health and social services to ensure better support to people in this position.
Our social security consultation, which will be the foundation for how we use our new powers, is also currently underway and I would urge all people and organisations with an interest, like Shelter, to take part.
n Kevin Stewart is Minister with responsibility for housing and homelessness