The latest Scottish Government statistics show a 12 percent reduction in the number of homelessness assessments between July and September 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.
Housing and homelessness agencies have welcomed the news, but say that it is still too high, and that the root causes of the problem have to be addressed, while campaigners for a 'Yes' vote in the 2014 referendum argue that a nation with full economic powers can and must re-invest in infrastructure.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is welcome news that 12 percent fewer families and individuals experienced the trauma of homelessness, which is testament to the hard work of teams of local housing officers across Scotland.
“However, despite Scotland’s progressive legislation on homelessness, it is still too high and we cannot afford to be complacent or lose sight of the fact that 7,311 households found themselves homeless in just three months.
“It is also worrying to see that some people gave welfare reform – including the so-called bedroom tax – as the main reason for their homelessness. This is something we need to continue to raise as the impact of welfare reforms deepens. We should also not overlook the efforts of third sector organisations to help mitigate that impact.”
Mr Brown added: “The root cause of homelessness is a housing crisis which has seen the housing safety net stripped apart after decades of under-investment. One solution would be for the Scottish Government to ensure at least 10,000 new social homes a year are built to bring hope to the 155,100 on local authority housing waiting lists and much-needed jobs to the construction sector.”
Shelter Scotland seeks to help over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness – and campaigns to prevent it in the first place.
"We’re here so no-one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own," the agency says.
* Shelter Scotland: http://scotland.shelter.org.uk
* Scottish referendum issues: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/scottishindependence