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Homeless Services under threat from funding cuts amid fears of a rise in demand

New research shows Scotland’s councils are worried about the impact of more cuts to Homeless Services.

 

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The standard of accommodation and the quality of services provided for homeless people are under threat from funding cuts to Scotland’s councils, housing charity Shelter Scotland has warned after new research was published this week.

Funding Homeless Services in Scotland’ showed that some local authorities were concerned that the standard of accommodation used for housing homeless people could deteriorate due to lack of repairs and maintenance caused by budget constraints. It also found there was little evidence of recent investment in the quality of accommodation for homeless people.

UK Government changes to the way temporary accommodation is funded - by being linked to the Local Housing Allowance from next year - will also mean a significant reduction in the money local authorities receive from central government to pay for temporary accommodation.

The research showed how local authorities are concerned that further funding cuts will impact their ability to maintain personalised homelessness services developed under the Housing Options approach.

The independent research by Anna Evans Housing Consultancy – which was commissioned by Shelter Scotland - also found that some local authorities think the reduction in homelessness applications seen over the last decade has now plateaued and they fear the number of people making homelessness applications will begin to rise again.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“The provision of accommodation and homelessness services together provide a vital safety net that helps people in crisis. But if services are cut, more homeless people will fall through that safety net.

“If nothing changes then something has to give. Our fear is that, due to underfunding, the quality of accommodation for homeless people and the services they receive will deteriorate, in effect, failing some of the most vulnerable people in our society at the very time they most need help.”

Graeme Brown concluded:

“The Scottish Government and COSLA need to find a new funding model that recognises and supports the full cost of providing good quality temporary accommodation and delivering world-class homelessness services.

“Councils must be supported so they can continue with their frontline person-centred services – not just their statutory duties. It’s vital that we find some practical and creative ways of tackling this very worrying situation.

“Politicians also need to develop a new National Homelessness Strategy for Scotland to bring a joined up approach to tackle this issue head-on and focus on the root causes of homelessness.”

Mary Taylor, CEO of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations said:

“This research adds to our concerns about the UK Government welfare reforms and the impact they are having on low income households across Scotland.

“These changes are threatening the very existence of the person-centred support services provided by our members that have made a real difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness.”

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