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Homelessness figures 'still too high'

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have said too many Scots are still facing the ‘nightmare’ of homelessness – despite the decrease reported today.

The Scottish Government say that homelessness applications in Apr-Sept 2011 were 20% lower than in the same period in 2010, making homelessness lower than it has been for 10 years.

Responding, CAS Head of Policy Susan McPhee says:

“Of course the overall decline in the homelessness figures is welcome. But it will be no consolation to the families who are being made homeless today. We continue to see far too many such cases at the CAB. This after all is 2012 – the year that homelessness was supposed to be abolished in Scotland.

“People in all sectors are being affected, but our case evidence suggests that it is younger Scots who are struggling in particular to keep pace with rent and mortgage payments. Young people tend to have lower and less stable incomes, and yet they are being required to save up unrealistic levels of deposits and chase restricted mortgage lending.

“To face the threat of having your home taken away is a devastating prospect for anyone. It really is the stuff of nightmares. But for too many Scots today it is the reality. Homelessness destroys lives, families and communities. It is also very expensive to the public purse, because homeless families still have to be looked after, and this can cost tens of thousands of pounds in each case – in addition to the huge social cost.

“It’s important to make people aware that help is available. Anyone who is worried about their mortgage or rent payments can get free, confidential help from their local CAB. No matter how bad things seem, there are always options, and our trained expert advisers will discuss these calmly with you. But you need to come forward as soon as you feel you have a problem. The earlier you take that step, the more help we will be able to offer.”

For interviews etc., please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010.