Alarm in Scotland at sharp rise of families in temporary housing

New figures indicate Scottish councils are failing to provide
homeless families with permanent accommodation and questions their
ability to eradicate the use of B&Bs.

The Scottish executive homelessness statistics show that, at the
end of September 2004, 2,147 families with children were housed in
temporary accommodation across Scotland, representing a 64 per cent
rise between 2002 and 2004 and 18 per cent rise since 2003.

Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, all families assessed as
unintentionally homeless are entitled to be placed in a permanent
home, such as housing association accommodation.

Between April and September 2004, only 266 of the 2,147 families
were assessed as intentionally homeless – meaning the remainder
were housed inappropriately. Shelter said the figures revealed a
“crisis” in the housing system.

A Shelter spokesperson said: “They show that local authorities are
unable to provide the permanent housing that is a right to families
with children who are unintentionally homeless. Without more
affordable housing, it is clear that legal rights to a permanent
home will just be lip service.”

However, the Scottish executive said temporary accommodation was
sometimes required as a “stepping stone” for families.
“Figures for the last full year suggest 492 families with children
were offered temporary accommodation as a final outcome, out of
9,404 families whose cases were actioned during 2003-4,” a
spokesperson said.

John Mills, housing manager at Fife Council, said the rises were
not a surprise because councils were struggling for permanent
housing because of the reduction in affordable housing stock.

He added that the introduction in January of the Homelessness
(Scotland) Act 2003 – which limited to 14 days the length of time
councils can house families in B&Bs – would have added further

“We are aiming to have zero dependency on B&Bs by March, but it
is difficult and others are really struggling because they haven’t
had the time and resources to develop alternatives.”

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