Homelessness can be ended in a decade, says report

Pic Lisa Ferguson 15/05/2018''A homeless man sits at the bottom of the stairs at Fleshmarket Close
Pic Lisa Ferguson 15/05/2018''A homeless man sits at the bottom of the stairs at Fleshmarket Close
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HOMELESSNESS could be ended throughout Britain within a decade if the right policies are adopted, a new report claims today.

Based on new research, including some by experts at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, the report addresses specific proposals to the governments of Scotland, England and Wales.

And housing charity Crisis, which published the report, said everyone who is homeless could have a stable home within ten years if the measures were adopted in full.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was backing a Scottish launch of the report in the Capital today.

Proposals include 100,500 new social homes each year to meet the needs of homeless people and those on low incomes and a statutory limit of seven days on the use of unsuitable temporary accommodation. A duty on councils to prevent homelessness, a robust annual count of rough sleeping and funding for councils to provide family mediation and support for people in keeping their tenancies are among other plans.

The report also backs the Housing First approach for those with complex needs, getting them a stable home that helps them tackle other problems.

Accountancy firm PwC estimated the costs and benefits of the most targeted policies in the plan and found that, over the next decade, the policies would cost £615 million, but deliver benefits worth £1.7 billion in Scotland, meaning that every £1 invested would generate a benefit of £2.70.

A total of 650 households stay in temporary bed-and-breakfast accommodation each night in Edinburgh, including 75 families. Between 80 and 120 people a night sleep rough on the streets of the Capital.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “For the first time ever, we have a comprehensive plan that shows exactly how we can address the root causes of homelessness and make it a thing of the past.

“Other parts of the world are taking huge strides towards ending it and Britain can too.

“We must not become a society that simply accepts 
homelessness as ‘a sad fact of life’ because the good news is that we know it doesn’t have to be this way.”

He praised all three governments for strong commitments to tackle the issue. “With the right measures in place, we can do what it takes to end homelessness and make sure that no one in Britain has to face it again,” he said.

The report involved an eight-month consultation, with hundreds of frontline workers and people who have experienced homelessness.

Crisis is encouraging the public to get involved by e-mailing their MSP and asking them to call on their party leader to commit to ending homelessness.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com