In the throes of a severe housing crisis, families declaring homelessness in Edinburgh are facing daunting waits, surpassing 600 days before securing a permanent residence. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, during First Minister’s Questions, highlighted these distressing figures, urging the Scottish Government to intervene urgently and address the escalating issue.
The housing crisis in Scotland has reached unprecedented levels, with Edinburgh experiencing the lengthiest wait times, well beyond the national average. Families in the capital city are enduring an agonizing 611 days on average before finding a permanent residence, while their counterparts in Glasgow are facing a challenging 381-day wait.
The individual presenting these concerning figures confronted the Scottish Government during First Minister’s Questions, questioning whether ministers felt “ashamed” of the situation. The argument put forth was that Scotland is currently facing a housing emergency that the government appears to be overlooking.
The representative, deputizing for an absent leader, countered the accusations, asserting that the government was “fully committed” to facilitating the rapid rehousing of homeless individuals. Despite this commitment, the stark reality on the ground suggests a deepening crisis that demands immediate attention.
This revelation follows a recent report by the Record, which revealed a surge in rough sleeping in Scotland, described as having “exploded.” The Simon Community charity, actively providing support with over 100 sleeping bags distributed in Edinburgh this month alone, sounded the alarm on an impending winter crisis for hundreds facing homelessness.
The individual, underscoring the gravity of the situation, pointed out the risk of more families joining waiting lists due to the economic turbulence caused by the “Tory economic chaos.” The assertion was made that people across the country are currently preparing for Christmas, a special time, but for many, it comes at the end of a year filled with anxiety about their family finances.
The housing crisis is further complicated by a surge in mortgage payments, with families grappling with the fallout from the economic uncertainties. The representative highlighted a 30% increase in the number of families at risk of losing their homes over the past year, directly attributing it to the mortgage crisis sparked by the aforementioned economic turmoil.
There was criticism regarding the effectiveness of the Scottish Government’s mortgage support team, noting its lack of assistance since 2015. Despite a commitment to a review by the end of the financial year, urgency was emphasized for immediate action, as families are currently facing the threat of eviction.
In response, the deputizing representative acknowledged the challenges but affirmed that the government was exploring additional measures to aid those struggling with mortgages. The statement made was, “We would continue to explore what more we can do to help people with mortgages.”
Undeterred, the individual continued to shed light on the dire situation, revealing that almost 30,000 families are currently homeless in Scotland. Shockingly, over 15,000 families are residing in temporary accommodation, including hostels, B&Bs, and hotel rooms. This grim reality means that 9,500 children will wake up on Christmas morning without a home to call their own.
The average duration families with children spend in temporary accommodation is a staggering 347 days. In some areas, this figure is even higher, reaching 381 days in Glasgow, 483 days in Midlothian, and a shocking 611 days in Edinburgh. Families are enduring nearly 20 months of homelessness, living in temporary accommodation, which was passionately denounced.
Directing the question to the Deputy First Minister, the inquiry was, “Aren’t you ashamed of that figure, and how have you allowed it to get this bad?” The response, while acknowledging resource constraints, outlined ongoing efforts. The statement made was, “I’ll be honest, we can’t mitigate everything as we don’t have the resources to do so.”
Despite these challenges, assurance was given that the government was actively responding to the issue of temporary accommodation. Investments totalling at least £60 million through the affordable housing supply program to support a national acquisition plan were mentioned. Collaborations with social landlords and the implementation of targeted plans with local authorities were also highlighted as part of their multifaceted approach.
The assurance was given, “We remain fully committed to rapid rehousing, and future budgets will be set out next week, which will confirm that,” aiming to reassure the public that steps are being taken to address the housing crisis gripping the heart of Scotland. As the government grapples with resource limitations, the plight of homeless families in Edinburgh persists, underscoring the urgency for effective and immediate intervention to alleviate their suffering.