Crisis urges parties to back Manifesto to End Homelessness
The Manifesto to End Homelessness calls on all political parties to adopt a new cross-departmental strategy for tackling homelessness and to commit to investing in a more proactive approach to prevention.
The five-point manifesto also urges parties to increase support for homeless people with complex needs, time limit temporary accommodation and to commit to using devolved powers on social security to prevent homelessness.
Since abolishing priority need in 2012, when all unintentionally homeless people in Scotland were given the right to ‘settled housing’, official statistics have shown a fall in the number of people making statutory homelessness applications.
However, the number of people coming to their council because they are homeless or threatened with homelessness has remained static, while increasing pressures on the supply of affordable homes and cuts to benefits are leaving more and more homeless people stuck in temporary housing, often for months at a time.
Recent research by Crisis also highlights the growing complexity of homeless people’s needs. Some have several experiences of homelessness before they approach their council for support, while 61 per cent of single homeless people have four or more support needs, with mental health issues and substance dependency prevalent among them.
Meanwhile, there is still progress to be made in preventing homelessness in the first instance. Further Crisis research shows intervening at an early stage can make savings of between £3,000 and £18,000 per person in the first year, particularly for health and criminal justice services. This compares to a typical cost of a homeless intervention of around £1,500.
Cabinet secretary for social justice, Alex Neil has endorsed the manifesto while Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives have also expressed their support.
Crisis is now urging all parties to officially include the recommendations in their election manifestos.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Recent years have seen Scotland blaze a trail in the battle against homelessness, but this is no time for complacency. That’s why we’re launching this manifesto; it will act as a blueprint for the next Scottish Government to maintain momentum and build on what has already been achieved.
“Despite the extension of rights, homelessness is increasingly visible on the streets of Scotland; we need to get better at prevention and develop a truly cross-departmental strategy that mitigates recent cuts to local authority budgets and social security.
“We warmly welcome the cross-party support our manifesto has received - it signals the vital, ongoing commitment that fighting this devastating social injustice needs. We look forward to working with all parties to continue this fight following the election in May.”