Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has spoken in a Scottish Parliament debate on preventing homelessness amongst young people. This follows a parliamentary committee report on current practice and how this can be improved. Following the debate Linda said:
“Young people need to be given more than just a set of keys. They need help to understand how to run a home in order that they can sustain a tenancy, be a good neighbour and part of a community.
“I am pleased to see our Scottish Government working hard to ensure the needs of our young people are met, making sure different services are working together to as far as possible prevent youth homelessness in the first place. The Scottish Government’s Housing Options funding programme, already backed by investment of approximately £650,000 and with a further £300,000 committed, has helped local authorities develop this approach. For example, South Lanarkshire Council run homelessness awareness sessions for all 4th year secondary pupils in their schools across South Lanarkshire.
There’s a particular issue with young people leaving local authority care, so through the Children and Young People Bill, the Scottish Government is considering extending the rights of these young people so that they can continue to receive support up to the age of 25. That way, they can be more in step with ordinary families where support is provided through childhood into early adulthood. Unfortunately not everyone starts out in life with the same opportunities and many young people find themselves homeless due to factors outwith their control; abuse in the family home for example.
“I am horrified that on top of the bedroom tax, Westminster is now talking about taking housing benefit away from under-25s in a bid to further slash the welfare budget. This could leave many more homeless. Over 5,000 young people claiming housing benefit in Scotland are in work and trying to make their way in the world – they do not deserve further punishment from a heartless Government in Westminster.
“The risks facing young people are being amplified by the UK Government’s Welfare Reform cuts agenda. The Bedroom Tax is a prime example of how flawed their policies are. There are only 165,000 one bedroom properties in the social rented sector in Scotland and only 20,000 of these will become available during the next year. Out of the 20,000 properties that will become available, over 9,000 of those are for people who are homeless. This stands in stark contrast to the 105,000 people living in Scotland who will be hit by the bedroom tax. It is nothing more than a London cash-grab on the poor and vulnerable people living in Scotland. Welfare policies need to be in the hands of the Scottish Parliament if we are going to ensure a fairer system that reflects Scottish values.
“At the Welfare Reform Committee, we heard from the chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission just how pernicious the bedroom tax is. It goes against all the human rights that we stand for in Scotland. He said that he does not believe that this Parliament would have introduced it. Scotland can afford her welfare bill. For each of the past five years, Scotland spent a lower percentage of public finances on social protection compared to the rest of the UK. We do not need to impose this misery on our people.”
Link to the Official Report which includes Linda’s speech to Parliament: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=8173&mode=html#iob_74154