SCOTLAND is seeing a rise in young middle-class people forced into homelessness.

Kate Polson, chief executive of the youth homelessness charity the Rock Trust, says more middle class young people are turning to her organisation for help.

The charity believes that the current stark economic climate, in which even more affluent families are hit by redundancies and losing their homes, are among the reasons for the rise. They have also seen an increase in the number of young people with mental health problems, and who have become estranged from their family after coming out or struggling with gender identity.

Polson said: "The reality is that homelessness can happen to anyone. Over the last couple of years we have seen an increasing number of young people who are pupils of some of the more prestigious private schools coming to us for housing advice or support. A breakdown in family relationships continues to be one of the leading causes of homelessness for young people and this can happen to anyone regardless of background."

The Rock Trust is now concerned that proposed changes to Housing Benefit, due to kick-in next year which would mean those under 21 would no longer be eligible, could lead to a crisis situation and she now wants action taken at a national level.

"The Rock Trust team are trained to navigate the benefits system and assist young people to learn to live on low income and irregular wages due to zero hour contracts but working out how university student loans can affect their entitlement to assistance with housing costs is no longer unusual," added Polson, who was herself homeless as a teenager and ended up sleeping rough.

"We work hard to prevent homelessness and to raise awareness of our service and it may be that young people from all backgrounds are more aware of what we do and are now using our services but the average young person in our services has changed substantially over the last two years."

Currently specific services for the young are not routinely offered across the country, which means vulnerable 16-year-olds can be accommodated with sometimes chaotic adults in homeless units, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.

"We need to decide what structure works and make sure that is implemented across Scotland from Inverness to Aberdeen, Glasgow, to Edinburgh and the borders. That means we need to reach a consensus based on evidence," added Polson.

Figures show nearly 6,000 young people become homeless in Scotland each year because the relationship between them and their family breaks down. Though figures have slightly decreased, many are concerned that some are being turned away by local authorities without receiving help and so are not recorded by the statistics - a practice known as gate keeping.

Graeme Brown, Director, Shelter Scotland said: “Young people are still worryingly over represented in official homelessness figures across Scotland. At Shelter Scotland we see many young people – from a range of backgrounds, with a range of problems – coming to our services for help, advice and advocacy. But with homelessness and support service budgets being continually squeezed, the ongoing impacts of welfare reform being felt and the proposed removal of automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, we are seeing more and more young people left with no choices and no options."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that preventing youth homelessness was a priority for the government. Legislation introduced in 2012 means that all unintentionally homeless people are now entitled to accommodation, though in practice this does not always happen.

She added: “We are taking a number of actions to help address this issue, including having homelessness amongst young people as a standing agenda item at regular Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group meetings, funding the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution to help with mediation and relationship breakdown for young people - the main cause of homelessness in under 25s - and funding a national Scottish Social Networks Co-ordinator, based at the Rock Trust, to help re-build social networks for young people and prevent further homelessness.”