HUNDREDS more children are facing Christmas without a home as the number of youngsters in temporary accommodation has risen by nearly a sixth, a charity has warned.

Shelter Scotland has issued an urgent appeal for donations, warning that nearly 5,000 children are now homeless and pinning the blame on a major shortage of affordable housing.

It has urged Scotland's political parties to include ambitious targets for new affordable housing in their manifestos for next year's Holyrood election campaigns.

There were 4,896 children in temporary accommodation at the end of June - 626 more than the previous summer, according to official statistics released in September.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: "It's completely unacceptable that in the 21st Century 100,000 children across Britain will spend Christmas homeless, with nearly 5,000 of them in Scotland.

"It's even more damning that in Scotland this represents a 15 per cent increase on the same statistics last year - so the problem seems to be getting worse, not better.

"Families with children can spend many weeks, months or even years stuck in temporary accommodation waiting for a house they can call home."

Glasgow accounts for around one-fifth of the total, with more than 1,000 children in the city expected to wake up homeless on Christmas Day.

A total of 1,230 children are living in temporary accommodation in Scotland, up 13 per cent on last year.

Glasgow has a high proportion of people in rented accommodation, with 17 per cent of households in the private sector and 35 per cent in council or social housing.

Last year there were 6652 homelessness applications to the city council - 1831 households were put in temporary accommodation and within these were around 1100 homeless children.

The latest figures, taken from the Scottish Government homelessness statistics, are part of the charity’s winter campaign to raise awareness of the number of children who will spend Christmas living in temporary accommodation.

Ms Watson said: "Being homeless is particularly detrimental to children's health, life chances and education, with recent research from the Commission on Housing and Wellbeing showing homeless children miss on average 55 school days each year.

"We simply have to do more to make sure no child is homeless at Christmas or at any other time.

"Each December Shelter Scotland's helpline advisors have to help hundreds of families at risk of losing their home.

"We need everyone's support in the coming months so our teams can help prevent more people from becoming homeless or, if the worst happens, support them to get a decent roof over their heads."

It came amid warnings that at least 12,000 affordable new homes are needed each year to tackle Scotland's housing crisis.

Ken Macintosh, Labour's housing spokesman, said that figure - which would result in 60,000 affordable properties being built over the five years of the next Holyrood term - should not be the target but the "baseline".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already pledged to up the Scottish Government's affordable housing target to 50,000 new homes if the SNP is re-elected to power at Holyrood next May.

Former auditor general for Scotland, Robert Black, who was tasked by Shelter to lead a commission looking at the problems in the housing sector, said provision of 12,000 affordable homes a year "would certainly be a major step change in affordable housing supply".

He added: "For many people living in our country we should indeed be talking about a housing crisis, there is a housing crisis for very large numbers in the Scottish community.

"There are over 150,000 households on waiting lists, 940,000 households in fuel poverty, some 76,000 are overcrowded, and over 28,000 households are assessed as homeless and nearly half of all our social housing still falls short of the minimum housing standard.

"What's more, the average house price now costs five times the average income paid, and that is putting owner-occupation beyond the reach of many people in Scotland, especially young families.

"Much more needs to be done to ensure everyone in Scotland has a decent place they can call their home."