• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

On the draw in committee for attention to the plight of homeless

I just don't know how to do this, so please help me, a young care leaver told MSPs on the Equal Opportunities Committee last week.

Not in person, the comment was in a diagram drawn in hard pencil, depicting the slide from care into homelessness, charting the course of a life and how services seemed unable to change it. One of five such drawings, they are among the most moving submissions received by the committee, as it investigates efforts to prevent and manage homelessness among young people.

Members of the committee are trying to find out how the situation has changed since the publication of the 2012 Having and Keeping a Home Report.

In particular, there is concern that with a rise in youth unemployment, the problem of youth homelessness is likely to grow. That hypothesis is supported by contributions received by the committee from Who Cares? and others.

Highland Homeless Trust, in a written submission to the committee, was particularly damning about local policy implementation.

Overall, attempts to prevent youth homelessness are inherently short term, it said, exemplified by the availability of housing for young people which is poor and getting worse.

An ongoing heavy reliance on temporary emergency B&B accommodation is still high. Meanwhile, the trust adds, children who have been in care are still disproportionately likely to end up homeless.

Benefit changes, such as the so-called bedroom tax and piloting of Universal Credit in Inverness, have not helped. The solution the trust proposes is better direction from central government, including a call for the Scottish Government to introduce some form of quality control to impose standards.

"This would go some way to address the hardship and unnecessary challenge faced by young people and others, when interacting with statutory housing services," the trust says.

Is this hard-hitting response representative of other council areas around the country? That is one of the questions MSPs will have to decide.

But the Scottish Government's response to Having and Keeping a Home was optimism. Ministers felt 2012's commitment to accommodating anyone deemed unintentionally homeless, as well as the work of five local authority housing hubs would have a significant impact on reducing youth homelessness.

That may turn out to have been optimistic.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

255322