Task force launched to tackle homeless families trapped in Edinburgh B&Bs

Homeless people on Princes Street, Edinburgh
Homeless people on Princes Street, Edinburgh
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A HOMELESSNESS task force has been launched by the city council to tackle the growing problem of families trapped in temporary accommodation in the Capital.

Chaired by the Homelessness Champion, Councillor Kate Campbell, the council says the task force will aim to end the use of bed and breakfast accommodation as temporary accommodation.

In 2016/17, the council says 3,386 households presented as homeless, down from the peak of 5,517 in 2006/7.

During the same period, the average homelessness case length has increased from 109 days to 303 days. The council says this is a result of welfare reform, lack of affordable housing options, the removal of non-priority status and a growing population.

Each evening the Council, through a range of services, accommodates approximately 1,850 households

Housing and Economy Convener Councillor Gavin Barrie said: “Our homelessness services are facing unprecedented pressures, with demand for both permanent and temporary accommodation exceeding supply. Addressing these pressures requires a city-wide partnership approach to ensure that workable solutions are found.

“The Council’s focus on prevention and early intervention has seen an overall reduction in homelessness presentations. However, as a result of welfare reform, a lack of affordable housing options and a growing population there has been an increase in the amount of time people spend in temporary accommodation.

“I’m positive that the establishment of this dedicated task force will be an important step forward in looking at alternatives to our current system and our shared goal of reducing homelessness and I look forward to their first update in the New Year.”

Along with Cllr Campbell, the six-member cross-party task force is made up of Cllr Robert Aldridge, Cllr Cammy Day, Cllr Susan Rae and Cllr Iain Whyte.

Speaking of her appointment as Chair of the task force Cllr Kate Campbell said: “Homelessness is a major issue facing the city.

“There is a financial cost which we can ill afford, but there is also a human cost which is why a key coalition pledge was to put in place this task force.

“There is an enormous amount of work to be done but we are determined to come up with bold solutions which prevent homelessness, tackle rough sleeping, and improve the quality of temporary accommodation.

“This won’t be easy but I am delighted that there is a real determination among the members of the task force to leave politics at the door and work constructively together to improve outcomes, and ultimately improve lives.”

An update on evidence gathered and recommendations will be considered at the next Housing and Economy Committee.