Scotland’s homelessness services ‘under threat’ due to council budget cuts
A perfect storm of cuts to local authority budgets and changes to the way temporary accommodation is funded threatens to undermine much of the progress Scotland has made on homelessness over the past decade, Shelter Scotland has warned.
The charity’s warning comes ahead of its 2016 annual homelessness conference ‘Funding in the Homeless Sector: Beyond the Cuts’ being held today at The Trades Hall in Glasgow.
The housing and homelessness charity says that local authority budgets for homelessness services are not ring-fenced and are vulnerable to cuts. It also says that the money local authorities receive from central government to pay for temporary accommodation is going to be reduced by being linked to the Local Housing Allowance from next year.
Shelter Scotland says the uncertainty of the funding situation is a potential threat to the working of Scotland’s progressive and internationally-recognised 2012 commitment on homelessness which promises a permanent home to everyone who is unintentionally homeless.
Last year in Scotland 35,764 people made a homeless application while 10,567 households were provided with temporary accommodation - including 4,923 children.
The charity wants funding for homelessness services to be protected and new funding streams secured so that the most vulnerable people in Scotland are properly supported at their time of greatest need.
Adam Lang, head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “We are gravely concerned that austerity cuts imposed on local authorities could put pressure on funding for vital homelessness services. Combine that with changes to the way in which councils are funded to provide temporary accommodation to homeless people – significantly reducing the budget from next year - and the picture looks very bleak.
“Scotland has made great strides on homelessness over the past decade and it would be a crying shame to undermine that progress.”
Adam Lang added: “Our annual homelessness conference is bringing together housing and homelessness practitioners from across Scotland. It is imperative that, together, we face up to the reality that the cuts will happen and try to find some practical and creative ways of tackling this potentially catastrophic situation.
“I thank all of our speakers and look forward to hearing what they have to say.”
Shelter Scotland wants the Scottish Government and COSLA to look at the funding structure for homelessness services.
The five main themes of the conference are:
- Making the financial case for homelessness services
- Social Investment: bringing new money to the sector
- The future role of funders
- UK, Scottish and local government funding for homelessness
- Diversifying income streams
Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “We share Shelter Scotland’s concern about the UK government’s changes to housing benefit for temporary accommodation.
“Temporary accommodation is part of the strong safety net for households that become homeless and the funding that supports this is vital.
“The Scottish Government will continue to work with local authorities to see how they can meet the challenges of the UK government’s changes to housing benefits for temporary accommodation.”