By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Paul McGarry has today demanded the SNP take “urgent and drastic” action to tackle homelessness, after an investigation by the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that more than 12,000 children and 25,000 adults were homeless last Christmas.
In 2015 there were 10,508 children within live homeless applications on Christmas Day. In 2019 that number was 12,467, alongside a further 25,832 adults. In West Dunbartonshire, the number was 127.
Mr McGarry, who was made homeless himself at 16, said: “At this time of year most of us can rely upon a comfortable and secure roof above our heads. These statistics show thousands upon thousands are not so lucky.
“In the past four years, the number of children part of a live homeless application on Christmas day has risen almost 20%. That’s a heart-breaking statistic.
“Whether it’s living on the streets, sofa-surfing or shuttling between temporary accommodation, these situations take a huge toll on people’s mental and physical health. It also exerts a huge toll on children’s education and development.
“Scotland is a wealthy and prosperous country. We can do so much better than this.
“The work that was done at the outset of the pandemic to house people was remarkable. But it also left many people wondering why it needed this crisis for government to mount a concerted effort to stop people being left outside.
“The SNP must urgently grasp the opportunity to build more social housing and ensure councils have resources to fix poor housing. There are thousands of neglected and vacant properties across the country which, with the right incentives, could be renovated to boost the housing stock.
“We also need to see advice services given the support and resources they need to help people in need, not being permanently left hanging by a thread.
“With common sense policies and a needle-sharp focus, we can tackle homelessness in 2021.”