THE number of homeless applications in Scotland rose to 100 a day last year, after the biggest increase since the SNP came to power in 2007.

Councils received 36,500 applications for homelessnesss assistance in 2018/19, a three per cent rise on the previous year, with an extra 180 children in temporary accommodation.

After almost a decade of falling applications, it was the second increase in a row.

Shelter Scotland said the statistics showed the country had a “housing emergency” with men, women and children being denied a fundamental right "on an industrial scale".

Despite the statutory duty on councils to provide temporary accommodations, there were 3,535 cases where applicants were not offered this, a 10% rise on the previous year.

SNP-run Glasgow City Council, which announced a £2.6m cut to homeless services last month, accounted for 95 per cent of all temporary accommodation refusals.

The Scottish Government said it was “concerned” at the failure to meet the statutory duty, and had agreed a “voluntary review” with Glasgow to tackle the issue.

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The Homelessness in Scotland statistics showed councils received 36,465 applications between April 2018 and March 2019.

Of these, 2876 (8 per cent) reported sleeping rough in the three months before their applications, up 201, but the same proportion as in 2017/18.

As at 31 March, there were 10,989 households in temporary accommodations such as bed and breakfasts (up 0.5%), 3315 of which included children or a pregnant woman, and increase of 65 (2%) on the year.

The total number of children in temporary accommodation rose by 180, or 3%, to 6795 last year, the fifth year in a row there has been an increase.

A total of 2,582 households were in temporary accommodation for a year or longer.

HeraldScotland: Source: Scottish GovernmentSource: Scottish Government

There were also 620 occasions when councils broke the law by housing someone in inappropriate accommodation for more than a week, 465 of them in Edinburgh.

The most common reason for making a homelessness application was being ‘asked to leave’ previous accommodation, which accounted for a quarter of applications.

The second most common reason was a non-violent household dispute or relationship breakdown (18%), followed by a violent form of the same (13%).

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Around four-fifths (82%) of the applications were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness, a rise of 523 (2%) on the previous year.

Some 71% of those assessed as unintentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness secured settled accommodation, a proportion that has risen consistently from 48% in 2002/03.

Homelessness applications are considerably down from their peak of 60,298 in 2005/06, thanks to the prevention-focused ‘Housing Options’ services which helps councils, rather than changes in the factors behind homelessness.

However officials said these services appeared to have reached their limits.

They said: “The rate of reduction in homelessness applications has significantly slowed over most recent years, with a 1% increase being seen last year and a 3% increase in the latest year. This suggests that, in its current form, the impact of Housing Options work is unlikely to lead to further reductions in applications beyond those already seen.”

Gordon MacRae, of Shelter Scotland, said last year's 1% rise in applicants was an alarm bell to the authorities, but the problem had only got worse.

He said: “These statistics expose the devastating impact Scotland’s housing emergency is having on people’s lives. This is the human cost of our collective failure to build the homes we need.

"On an industrial scale, thousands of men, women and children are being denied their most basic right to a safe home.

"Every 17.5 minutes a household was made homeless in Scotland last year with 29,894 households assessed as homeless – up 2% on last year.

“For the fifth year in a row the number of homeless children living in temporary accommodation has risen – up 3% to 6,795. People are having to stay longer in temporary accommodation with their lives in limbo.

“And on 3,535 occasions people were denied their legal right to emergency housing by local authorities – being turned away to sleep rough, sofa surf or return to dangerous situations.

“The question every citizen of Scotland must ask ourselves is how much longer are we prepared to tolerate this.”

The Scottish Tories said the SNP must "take responsibility” for the rise in homelessness after more than 12 years in charge of housing, and stop blaming other factors and governments.

MSP Graham Simpson said: “Everyone is tired of the nationalists’ blame game – it’s time they took responsibility and sorted this out. It’s completely unacceptable that the number of children living in temporary accommodation is on the rise.

“The levers of homelessness are extensive – they range from relationship breakdown and domestic violence to surging housing costs and a loss of employment.

“Ministers need to tackle the root causes that leave people without a roof over their heads.

“The time for the SNP shirking responsibility on this matter is over.”

Scottish Labour said the figures reflected a “disgraceful” lack of long-term SNP planning.

MSP Pauline McNeill said: "Having just one person homeless in 21st century Scotland is unacceptable - but to see homelessness on the rise once again is an utter disgrace.

“These numbers show that the impact of continued austerity from the Westminster and Holyrood governments is having real impact on real people’s lives and more must be done to halt the blight of homelessness in Scotland. 

“It took the SNP over ten years to focus on homelessness and as yet their plans are having little impact on people at the sharp end of poverty. We need to see more investment in social housing, frontline services and prevention made a top priority as a matter of urgency but we also need investment in housing more widely. 

“Scottish Labour is the only party with a plan to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis, by building at least an additional 12,000 homes for social rent and introducing a new law to cap private sector rent increases, tackling the cost of living crisis and properly funding the local services that prevent people losing their accommodation.” 

SNP housing minister Kevin Stewart said homelessness was “unacceptable”.

He said: “We are tackling this challenge in the context of the UK Government’s welfare cuts which we know are causing major hardship and housing insecurity for many people - a growing number of studies show these cuts are causing homelessness.

"We are spending more than £125m this year to mitigate against the worst impacts and protect those on low incomes, including £62m in Discretionary Housing Payments.

“We want to make sure that anyone facing homelessness is supported into permanent, settled accommodation that meets their needs as quickly as possible. I’m pleased that the latest statistics show a significant increase in households securing settled accommodation, but we have further to go."

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He went on: "Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation. We are concerned to understand why the data suggests that this is not always happening.

“The data highlights a particular issue in Glasgow and I have agreed with Glasgow City Council that a voluntary review would be led by the Scottish Government in partnership with the Council to tackle this issue.

“It is disappointing that there have been a significant number of breaches of the unsuitable accommodation order in some areas. Although there has been some improvement in the second half of the reporting year, I am clear that any breach is unacceptable and I expect those local authorities to continue to make improvements and minimise the use of unsuitable temporary accommodation like B&Bs.”