Scotland sees 19 percent fall in homelessness applications
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Local Government
Scotland sees 19 percent fall in homelessness applications
Scotland has seen a 19 percent fall in homelessness applications in the past 12 months, according to new figures published today.
Housing Minister Keith Brown said the approach to homelessness taken by the Scottish Government was "making a difference".
The Government has invested £500,000 in a scheme that enables local authorities to refocus services to look at the housing options of individuals in an attempt to reduce the number of homeless applicants.
Today's figures also revealed a 15 percent fall in households assessed as either homeless or threatened with homelessness. There were also falls in households in temporary accommodation (down five percent), and households with children in temporary accommodation (down nine percent).
Commenting on the figures while visiting Edinburgh Cyrenians, Mr Brown said: “These substantial and welcome figures are further encouragement that our innovative approach to tackling the blight of homelessness is working and making a real difference.
“This reflects the commitment shown by local authorities and their partners to move to a focus on prevention rather than just reacting to people becoming homeless.
“We will continue to drive forward that process to ensure that we can continue to make real reductions in the number of people being made homeless in Scotland.”
“There can be no shred of complacency while any household faces the trauma of being made homeless.
“Working with our partners in local government and elsewhere, we are getting ever closer, and remain fully on course to meet our target that, by the end of 2012 all unintentionally homeless people will be entitled to settled accommodation.”
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is good news that the majority of Scotland’s local authorities are taking the right steps toward ensuring every unintentionally homeless person has the right to a home.
“There has been an overall reduction in the numbers of people having to go through the nightmare of homelessness - which is a welcome improvement. Whilst the national figure masks some of the significant variations between individual local authorities, an overall reduction can only be a good thing.
“But let’s not forget that more than 45,000 homelessness applications were made with 35,000 assessed as homeless – so there’s no room for complacency, particularly given the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday when he suggested scrapping housing benefit for under 25s.
“However, if the 2012 commitment is to mean anything, it has to be the start of something better, and we can’t yet be certain that those people who would have otherwise entered the system are better off outside it.
“We hope they are - but it is now imperative that COSLA, the Scottish Government and homelessness organisations present the evidence to match the assertion that Housing options is working.”
Scotland homelessness figures:
- In 2011-12, there were 45,322 applications, 19% lower than the number of applications received in the same period in 2010-11.
- The number of applications has fallen in 30 out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities. Applications increased in South Ayrshire Council and Midlothian Council.
- The fall in applications is mainly due to the impact of housing options/ homelessness prevention strategies adopted by most councils over the past few years rather than to changes in the underlying drivers of homelessness.
- There were 35,515 homeless or threatened with homelessness assessments and this was 15% lower than in 2010-11.
- 91% of applicants assessed as homeless were accorded priority in 2011-12, an increase of three percentage points over the same period in 2010-11
- The increase in the percentage assessed as priority reflects the impact of policies set by councils as they have implemented plans to achieve the 2012 homelessness commitment. Section 4 provides more background.
- Between 1 January and 31 March 2012: In fourteen council areas 100% of homeless assessments were assessed as having a priority need. In a further nine council areas, over 90% of homeless assessments were assessed as having a priority need. Two local authorities – East Lothian and Eilean Siar - assessed fewer than 70% of homeless assessments as having a priority need.
- A total of 47,748 cases were closed during 2011-12. This is 14% lower than in 2010-11. The number of cases closed has fallen as a result of there being fewer applications overall. This reduction is less than the 19% reduction seen for applications as there is a time lag between cases being opened and cases being closed.
- 73% of priority homeless households secured a local authority, housing association or private let as an outcome. This is unchanged from 2010-11.
Households in temporary accommodation
At 31 March 2012:
- There were 10,743 households in temporary accommodation - a decrease of 571 households (-5%) compared to one year earlier.
- There were 3,484 households with children in temporary accommodation – a decrease of 349 households (-9%) compared with one year earlier. These households contained a total of 5,588 children, a decrease of 476 children (-8%) compared to one year ago.
- The number of households with children in bed & breakfast accommodation in March has fallen in each year since March 2008 and, at 21 households, is now less than a fifth of the March 2008 level (82% below March 2008).
- A total of 8 breaches of the Unsuitable Temporary Accommodation Order were reported. These breaches occurred in Midlothian (2) and Fife (6).
Notifications of households at risk of homelessness due to eviction or repossession
For the period 1 January to 31 March 2012:
- Notifications from creditors intending to start repossession proceedings against homeowners which had been at around 2,000 per quarter in 2009 and 2010 increased to over 4,000 in Jan-March 2011 and have remained at around 4,000 since then.
- Notifications from housing associations have increased by 104 (+9%) and from private landlords by 49 (+55%). However, there has been no corresponding increase in homelessness from housing associations or from private landlords – indeed we have seen a reduction in applications from both sectors.
- The high level of notifications from creditors might be expected to lead to an increase in homelessness because of repossession of owner occupiers’ properties. However during 2011-12 applications from owner occupiers citing mortgage default as the reason for their homelessness was 39% lower than in the same period in 2010-11.