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Scottish government urged to tackle homelessness as new figures show huge rise across the country

URGENT action to end the scourge of homelessness in Scotland was demanded today after new figures showed a huge rise across the country. 

Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon must announce measures to tackle homelessness in her programme for government speech next week. 

Figures published today show the number of households recorded as homeless in the year up to March 31 had risen by 4 per cent to 31,333.

The National Statistics publication also revealed that 11,665 households were in temporary accommodation at the end of March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country. 

The research also revealed that households spent an average of 184 days in temporary accommodation, while the delay for households with children was even higher.

Mr Wightman said: “We will face a tidal wave of evictions in the coming months, adding to the homelessness crisis, unless the Scottish government takes urgent action to prevent them as the initial emergency six-month pause on evictions comes to an end.

“Over the last few months I’ve proposed a rent freeze and a ban on evictions based on debt accrued because of the current crisis.

“Unfortunately, the Scottish government has been unwilling to take any action to support tenants in the private rented sector, instead establishing a support fund for landlords.

“There is still time to act, so I urge the First Minister to use her programme for government speech next week to announce urgent measures to tackle the homelessness crisis and protect tenants who face being in next year’s homelessness statistics if nothing is done.”

The figures released this week do not include those for the bulk of the coronavirus pandemic and do not reflect measures taken during this time.

Since the start of the crisis, more than £1.5 million has been provided to third-sector organisations to accommodate those experiencing homelessness in hotels.

The government says that it is committed to ending homelessness and rough sleeping, adding that its intention is to “extend emergency legislation designed to protect renters from eviction.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart added: “Our priority is now to prevent anyone from ending up back on the streets or in unsuitable temporary accommodation.”

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