Friday, 3 January 2014

Minister praises help for homeless



Scotland’s Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess MSP, has praised local authorities, housing associations and charities for the support they are giving to people who have found themselves homeless over the festive period.

Mrs Burgess welcomed recent Scottish Government statistics showing a drop in the number of homeless applications in Scotland, but acknowledged the ongoing work required to accommodate and support those who do find themselves without somewhere to live.

Praising the “vital role” played by councils, housing associations and charities such as Shelter, the Minister said, “I know the heartache and trauma of homelessness from working closely with households faced with the prospect of losing the roof over their head.

“This becomes magnified during the festive period, so the work carried out to help house those people most in need is crucial at this time of year.”

Mrs Burgess, who represents the local constituency of Cunninghame South, noted, “Recent figures show that homelessness in Scotland has gone down, which builds on our historic achievement last year in meeting the homelessness 2012 target.  While we welcome this continued improvement, we are concerned that Westminster’s welfare changes may undermine this good work.

“Over the past few years, councils have been developing services where staff assist households to consider a range of housing options, which address their individual housing needs, in order to help prevent homelessness before it occurs.

“Alongside this we want to increase housing supply to ensure settled accommodation can be accessed by households as quickly as possible and avoid them spending too much time in temporary accommodation.  Increasing the supply of affordable housing is a vital part of our efforts to build a better and fairer Scotland.”

The SNP Government aims to deliver 30,000 affordable homes - including 20,000 for social rent - over the lifetime of the current parliament, which runs until March 2016.  Margaret Burgess said, “We will be making over £900-million available for affordable housing and we will continue to work with councils and their partners to help prevent homelessness and to improve outcomes for households that do become homeless.”

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