Scotland Shake Up Homelessness
- 04 Jan
Scotland introduce a change in legislation for providing settled accomodation, hoping to lead the way in getting rid of homelessness.
The new law states that anyone who has become homeless through no fault of their own can receive accommodation, where previously it was only people with children and other priority groups who had that right.
This change, introduced for the start of 2013, is hoping to give an additional 3,000 homeless people a roof over their heads each year.
It meets Scotland's 2012 homelessness commitment, set 10 years ago by the Labour/Lib Dem government, and the decision was passed unanimously last month under the Homelessness (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012.
The deputy first minister also announced £300,000 will be spent over the next two years to help councils with their efforts to prevent homelessness as the implementation will require funding.
Figures from last year show a continued drop in homelessness in Scotland, applications for homelessness falling 19% last year. This is in contrast to England which rose 9% in 2012, with a massive 27% increase of people accepted as homeless in London.
Earlier this year, the Scottish government said it is also using preventative measures to stop people from reaching the point where they need to seek government assistance for housing.
Nicola Sturgeon said:
This is a landmark day in the fight against homelessness. I know the heartache and trauma of homelessness from working closely with households faced with the prospect of losing the roof over their head.
Meeting our 2012 commitment guarantees that those who lose their home from no fault of their own will be guaranteed settled accommodation.
It is absolutely right to offer this guarantee in a time of crisis for people. It sends the signal that we are there to help, there is hope and that the state will do what it can.
One of the main concerns with the changes is whether the cuts to housing benefits will actually hinder any progress they make with decreasing homelessness, as research by Crisis shows that cuts to the welfare budget, in particular the bedroom tax, will negatively impact 90,000 social tenants in Scotland and could increase homelessness..
The other worry is if there will be an adequate supply of accommodation now that more is required, as well as the necessary funding.
Dr Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Association, said:
Scotland can be truly proud of this historic legislation. However challenges remain in trying to ensure that an adequate supply of settled accommodation can be realised.
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