Number of children in temporary accommodation in Scotland rises by 17% in a year in 'deeply concerning' situation

The number of children in temporary accommodation in Scotland has risen by more than 1,000 in the past year, official data has shown.

The Scottish Government figures, released on Thursday, revealed some 35,230 applications for homelessness assistance were made in 2021/22 – a 3 per cent increase from 34,286 the year before.

As of March 31, there were 26,166 live homelessness cases in Scotland – more than two-and-a-half times more the same figure in 2003 (10,643).

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While the number of households in temporary accommodation as of March 31 rose by 4 per cent – from 13,359 to 13,945 – the number of families with children in short-term housing has risen by 17 per cent – from 7,385 to 8,635.

Repeat homelessness is at a 10-year low, but the number of children in temporary accommodation has risen. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Since 2002, the figure has almost quadrupled from 2,390.

Housing secretary Shona Robison admitted she was “deeply concerned” at the rise in the number of children in temporary accommodation.

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“Two thirds of families with children in temporary accommodation are in social rented homes, and many more are in private rented tenancies, but we want them to have the stability of a settled home,” she said.

“We know the situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has led to a backlog for local authorities that must be addressed.”

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Most (1,755) households with children or pregnant women in temporary accommodation are in homes furnished by local councils, while 1,055 are in housing association properties.

The data showed 65 were in women’s refuges, 55 in bed and breakfasts and ten on local authority hostels – as of March 31.

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The average time for a couple with children spent in temporary accommodation in the past year, the figures show, was 343 days, down from 360 the year before, but an increase from 268 in 2019/20.

A single parent spent on average 234 in temporary accommodation.

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Ms Robison said the best way to address the use of temporary accommodation was to stop homelessness in the first place.

People applying for homelessness support who cite mental health reasons as a factor has also sharply risen in the past year.

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In 2020/21, 5,990 people said mental health problems were a reason they were not able to maintain accommodation, while 6,998 people said the same on their application in 2021/22 – an increase of almost 17 per cent.

Matt Downie, the chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said the figures should serve as a “wake-up call”.

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“Scotland made huge progress in tackling rough sleeping during the pandemic, but the fact that more people are spending longer periods of time trapped in temporary accommodation is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“We know how damaging spending long periods of time in temporary accommodation can be, particularly for children and young people. You get a roof over your head, but a B&B is not a home.”

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Scottish Tory housing spokesman Miles Briggs urged ministers to “get a grip” of the problem, adding: “These problems are only likely to exacerbate during the cost-of-living crisis that is hitting hard right now and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.”Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton pressed the Government to re-establish social renting as a long-term option and bring long-term empty homes back into use.