Drop in Scotland homelessness applications

The number of people presenting themselves as homeless in Scotland has dropped, official figures have revealed.

There were 8,734 applications for homelessness assistance in the final quarter of 2012, a 12 percent drop on the same period in 2011.

The decrease stands in contrast to the situation in England.

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) latest homelessness figures (published March 22), 13,570 people were accepted as homeless in 2012, final quarter - a six percent rise on 2011.

Scotland also saw drops in households in temporary accommodation (down four percent) and households with children in temporary accommodation (down eight percent).

The Scottish government's housing and welfare minister, Margaret Burgess, said: “In December 2012 landmark legislation came into force in Scotland which has put us at the forefront in Europe in our approach to tackling homelessness.

“Meeting our 2012 commitment guarantees that those who lose their home through no fault of their own are guaranteed settled accommodation.

“All of our councils did excellent work preparing for this new law, and these latest falls in homelessness applications provide proof that measures to tackle and prevent homelessness are making a real difference.

“The Scottish Government’s Housing Options Approach funding programme, backed by investment of approximately £650,000, has helped local authorities embrace prevention. And over the next two years we have committed a further £300,000 to ensure this work continues."

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is good news that 12 percent fewer families and individuals are experiencing the human tragedy of homelessness. This is indicative of the concerted efforts made by landlords not to evict tenants during the cold winter months, and the overall trend remains down.

“However, homelessness in Scotland is still too high and we cannot afford to be complacent or lose sight of the fact that over 8,500 households still lost their homes in just three months.

“A number of local authorities have surpassed the national trend and we hope to be able to work with them to identify what lessons, if any, other councils can take from their experiences.”