‘More work to do’ on homelessness in South Ayrshire

HOMELESSNESS in South Ayrshire is on the up despite all but two councils in Scotland reporting a decrease.

A Scottish Government report released last week showed only South Ayrshire and Midlothian saw their number of homeless applications go up in the year to April, despite a fall of 19 percent in Scotland as a whole.

South Ayrshire’s figure was up nearly four percent on 2010-11, while 30 out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities saw homelessness in their areas drop.

There was some good news for South Ayrshire however as it joined 14 other councils in getting rid of priority assessments.

Under Scottish Government guidelines priority allocation - which takes into account the reason for becoming homeless, family situation and age of the homelessness applicant in deciding how soon they will housed – should be redundant in all of Scotland’s local authority areas by the end of 2012.

South Ayrshire has achieved this feat with a 100 percent record, despite being six months ahead of schedule.

Graeme Brown, Director of homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, said:  

“The figures show that South Ayrshire Council is continuing to focus on its responsibilities to homeless people and on its early preparedness for the reforms.

“However, in light of a four percent increase in the number of homelessness applications, the council has more work to do to ensure people don’t become homeless in the first place.”

Kenny Leinster, South Ayrshire Council’s Head of Housing and Community Care, said: “The figures in the Scottish Government report need to be viewed in context, as they show an increase of just 16 applications for homeless accommodation in South Ayrshire, out of a total population of 112,000 people.

“That’s a very small percentage, but it is still disappointing, as we have been seeing a decreasing trend in the number of applications for homeless accommodation in previous years.”

He said South Ayrshire Council remains “confident” of tackling the various factors that can lead to homelessness, and of delivering the long-term aim of having no-one suffer homelessness in any South Ayrshire community.

Reacting to the broadly positive news for Scotland Housing Minister Keith Brown said: “These substantial and welcome figures are further encouragement that our innovative approach to tackling the blight of homelessness is working and making a real difference.

“We will continue to drive forward that process to ensure we can continue to make real reductions in the number of people being made homeless in Scotland.”