Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

Homeless waiting time 'trebles'

Homeless person
The report found that targets for rough sleeping were being met

The length of time people are homeless while councils in Scotland find them accommodation has trebled in recent years, according to a report.

But the Homeless Monitoring Group said rough sleeping had fallen in line with targets and the majority of hidden homelessness had been uncovered.

Housing Secretary Stewart Maxwell said the report showed progress was being made but there was "a way to travel".

He said ministers were still committed to eradicating homelessness by 2012.

The report, by the Homeless Monitoring Group, found that councils faced challenges to meet the 2012 target of giving all homeless people the right to permanent accommodation.

It revealed the amount of time that homeless people remained in "priority need" was now more than four months.

Limited supply

"For those cases assessed as unintentionally homeless and in priority need, the median case duration, from application to discharge, has increased from just under six weeks in 2003/03 to nearly 18 weeks in 2006/07," the report stated.

It found that a limited supply of affordable social housing was the main reason for this.

"Local authorities are taking forward a wide range of actions to attempt to reduce the duration of homelessness," the report added.

These included hiring more staff, making the appeals process easier and introducing monthly performance targets.

In terms of meeting the 2102 target, councils have been set interim targets for 2009, based on making a reduction of 50% in the number homeless people it assessed as "non-priority".

'Significant challenges'

However, only three have met this, while eight have gone in the "opposite direction to the target" in that the amount of homeless people assessed as "priority need" had dropped between 2006/07 and 2003/04.

Almost half of Scotland's 32 councils will have to increase the proportion of homeless cases assessed as priority by between 5% and less than 10% per year to meet the interim target by next March.

"Inspectors have found that while some councils are planning strategically to help them achieve the targets for 2009 and 2012, others are not yet doing so," the report said.

In a joint statement, Mr Maxwell and Cosla's spokesman for community wellbeing and safety, Harry McGuigan, welcomed the publication of the report, as well as a report by the Homelessness Support Project.

"The reports indicate areas of good progress but reveal we still have a way to travel, with some local authorities facing significant challenges," they said.

"However, we remain committed to 2012 and to working together in partnership to prevent homelessness where possible and to ensure that delivery is managed and sustainable."

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