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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Homeless singles on the increase
Homeless card
More single people are now seeking help under homeless laws
More single people are now seeking help from councils under homelessness legislation, figures have shown.

The number of homelessness applications totalled 59,970 last year, up by 4% on the previous year.

Almost all of the increase since 2000 has been from single-person households, according to statistics from the Scottish Executive.

During the second half of the 1990s, the number of applications remained at between 40,000 and 45,000 a year.

About a quarter of all applicants are single parents and the number of single-parent households seeking help is now said to be about 14,500.

Priority need

Changes in the law have been a big factor in the increase in applications from single-person households, the research claimed.

New duties on councils to provide temporary accommodation, and a higher proportion of applicants being assessed as in priority need, are likely to have encouraged applications, the executive found.

Much of last year's increase was accounted for by a rise in applications in four areas - Aberdeen, the Borders, Dundee and West Dunbartonshire.

Those authorities saw about a 20% rise in applications but the statisticians said it was because those councils now treated approaches for help as formal applications.

We cannot hide from homelessness in Scotland
Archie Stoddart
Shelter Scotland

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "New statistics show that the progressive legislation introduced in recent years has made a significant impact."

SNP housing spokeswoman Tricia Marwick MSP said that it came as no surprise that homelessness was on the increase in Scotland

She added: "The lack of affordable housing is forcing many people to live with relatives and friends as they cannot afford their own home, and when these arrangements break down they have no choice apply for homeless status in the hope of being housed."

Archie Stoddart, director of Shelter Scotland, said: "The statistics show there has been a rise in number of people applying as homeless, which is in part attributed to four local authorities having been better recording practices.

"Having people more aware of their rights and coming forward to apply as homeless, as well as better recording practices, is welcome. We cannot hide from homelessness in Scotland."

Previously they would have treated an approach as a general inquiry and this would not have shown up in official figures.

Most of the applications came from single-person households, mainly men. Single parents, mostly women, made up the next biggest group.

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