'Significant' fall Scottish homeless figures

Rough sleepers
Image caption New legislation was passed in December 2012 to help people who are homeless

A 13% decline in the number of homeless people in Scotland was recorded for the period between July and September 2012.

Applications for homelessness assistance stood at 10,269 which was down from 11,604 on the same period the previous year.

Homeless numbers were at their lowest level for more than a decade.

Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said the Scottish government was "working hard to ensure that priority is given to prevention".

Legislation which came into effect at the end of 2012 entitled anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own to settled accommodation.

Ms Burgess said: "It is difficult to imagine, or overstate the trauma that comes with losing the roof over your head.

"I've worked with many people in that situation and that is why there can be absolutely no complacency when it comes to tackling homelessness.

"I am confident that by working together, Scotland can pave the way and set an example to the rest of the world when it comes to preventing homelessness."

Director of the housing charity Shelter Scotland Graeme Brown said: "It is good news that 13% fewer families and individuals are experiencing the tragedy of homelessness.

"But homelessness in Scotland is still too high. Indeed, with the homelessness rate up to six times that of England, we cannot afford to be complacent or lose sight of the fact that over 10,000 households still lost their homes in just three months."

Temporary accommodation

The Scottish Greens said the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfast remains over 10,000 compared to the 4,000 recorded 10 years ago.

Scottish Greens' Co-Convenor Patrick Harvie said: "It's a scandal that in 2013 we have so many families and individuals being housed in inappropriate places. The housing minister says it's a priority but her colleague the finance secretary has cut the budget.

"The current year's housing budget in Scotland is £389m - this is due to drop by £121m over the next three years."

Mr Harvie continued: "Instead of raiding these important funds Scottish ministers should be increasing their investment in social housing to help ensure a decent home for all."

That was echoed by Leslie Morphy, the chief executive of Crisis, a charity which works with single homeless people.

She said: "Today's figures prove that with sufficient political will, a real difference can be made in tackling homelessness even during the economic downturn. By strengthening its homelessness safety net, the Scottish Government is making excellent progress in saving people from the horrors of homelessness.

"Sadly, this progress is under threat. Independent research warns that welfare cuts - particularly cuts to housing benefit including the bedroom tax, alongside a chronic lack of social housing - could scupper this progress.

"We fear homelessness could begin to rise again unless these issues are tackled."

The Scottish government said the number of people in temporary accommodation had fallen 5% in the last year.

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