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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK
City's homeless tops Ireland
Homeless man
Homelessness can be very traumatic, campaigners say
There are more homeless people in Glasgow than there are in the whole of Ireland, latest figures have revealed.

A report released by the Scottish Executive confirms that numbers across Scotland have risen for the sixth year in a row.

Local authorities received 50,917 applications from people who were homeless in the last 12 months, a rise of 9% on the previous year.

Glasgow City Council, the local authority which received most applications, processed 12,608 in the past year compared with 4,911 in Edinburgh.

The main increase was in individual homelessness, with the number of single men becoming homeless soaring the most.

However some of those worst affected by homelessness are said to be children and the charity Shelter Scotland claims a child faces homelessness in Scotland every 21 minutes.

It is calling on the executive and local authorities to recognise the particular threat from homelessness to young people.

There are currently 1,620 families with children housed in temporary accommodation in Scotland as a result of homelessness - a 22% rise on last year.

'Progressive changes'

Rachel Martin, of Shelter Scotland, said: "When people do become homeless, it is important that we lessen the impact on them, especially for children.

"It can lead to learning difficulties, health problems, problems in developing social skills and problems fitting in at schools - it can be an extremely traumatic experience."

She added: "Child homelessness is a definite problem in Scotland and we want to make sure that steps are taken to ensure the impact on them is as minimal as possible."

Homeless sign
Glasgow has a large number of people sleeping rough
Communities Minister Margaret Curran said the rise in statistics was the result of more help being available to those previously not eligible.

"The reason for this [rise] is quite straightforward. Positive and progressive changes that we recently made to the law mean that many more people are now eligible for help," she said.

Ms Curran added: "Now all homeless people are entitled to a minimum of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance, whereas previously many were not entitled to accommodation at all.

"That is why homelessness applications and the number of those living in temporary accommodation are on the increase.

"We believe that these statistics are a measure of our success in reaching people who were previously unrecognised by the system."

'Number may be higher'

Bill Edgar, of Dundee University and research coordinator for the European Observatory on Homelessness, said: "The homeless per inhabitants for Glasgow according to these statistics is about two per thousand of the population - most other European countries are well under 0.5.

"The actual number of those homeless in Glasgow is currently recorded at around 10,000, meaning they are equal to whole countries like Finland, Ireland and Austria which all have similar or higher populations to Scotland."

He added that the number of actual homeless could be higher than figures show as many will not be in touch with authorities or help organisations which allows them to be counted.

BBC Scotland's Forbes McFall
"Shelter wants better provision for families"

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