Ken Macintosh MSP, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Community, says we need a long term strategy detailing how government, housing associations and the third sector can tackle homelessness.
Shelter Scotland has estimated that there are 5,000 children homeless this Christmas. That’s a 15% increase on last year.
Homelessness can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, on their health, their sense of worth and on their children’s welfare and wellbeing. At Christmas time, there is something particularly upsetting about not having a place to call home, yet this is the reality for thousands of Scots.
This year the number of children who will spend Christmas Day homeless has increased. This problem is getting worse, not better.
The bare minimum every Scot deserves from their government is a home and a fair chance. If we are serious about building a fairer Scotland then we have to start by building more homes.
But we can do more right now to help those in pressing need. The last Labour-led Scottish Government set a bold target to reduce homelessness in 2003 but nearly thirteen years on the current SNP Government appears to have lost that that sense of purpose.
Despite the Scottish Parliament passing world leading legislation to tackle the problem, progress in reducing the numbers of homeless households had stalled. There is still no overarching strategy from the SNP Government detailing how central government, local authorities, housing associations and the third sector could work together to reduce homelessness in Scotland. The most recent figures published by the SNP Government show that the number of homeless households in Scotland remains around 54,000.
We need a long term strategy around homelessness. With a majority in parliament and more powers than ever before, the SNP Government must give that commitment and to go into 2016 showing the sort of determination that is required.