Home­less­ness re­mains an is­sue for the coun­cil

Rutherglen Reformer - - Spittal Primary Festive Fun -

I hope all read­ers had a good Christ­mas, and I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year.

I re­ally en­joy this time of year and al­ways look for­ward to a chance to spend some qual­ity time with my fam­ily and friends, giv­ing and re­ceiv­ing presents and gen­er­ally hav­ing a few days of re­lax­ation, some tasty food and good cheer.

I wish that this were the case for all, and that ev­ery­one could look for­ward to 2019 with hope. But un­for­tu­nately, too many peo­ple are liv­ing in hard­ship that must seem even worse at a time when oth­ers are en­joy­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties.

Clearly, the home­less among us fall into that sad cat­e­gory, not least be­cause at this time of year their ev­ery­day is­sues can be made even worse by win­ter weather con­di­tions.

This is­sue was high­lighted ear­lier this month by the Sleep In The Park, which was or­gan­ised by the char­ity So­cial Bite. I was one of the 12,000 who took part, along with my coun­cil col­league Josh Wil­son, at one of four sleep-outs, held in Kelv­in­grove Park in Glas­gow.

The aim was both to high­light the is­sue of home­less­ness and also raise some money for ef­forts to tackle the is­sue. I was glad to do my bit, but I know that sleep­ing out­doors for one night doesn’t be­gin to give an idea of how tough life is for those who live on the street ev­ery day and night. Also, even though more than £3m was raised, that won’t be­gin to solve the prob­lem.

My own view is that the prob­lem of home­less­ness has been ex­ac­er­bated in re­cent years by the aus­ter­ity poli­cies of the UK Gov­ern­ment. Fur­ther­more, I think it is clear that those poli­cies also hin­der the abil­ity of coun­cils and oth­ers to tackle such so­cial is­sues.

At South La­nark­shire Coun­cil we do what we can, and last year we pro­vided a range of ad­vice to 753 house­holds to pre­vent home­less­ness. Where home­less­ness can­not be pre­vented, we pro­vide sup­port, and dur­ing 2017/18 1,953 tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion place­ments were made.

We try to put peo­ple in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion near their fam­i­lies and, where kids are in­volved, their schools, and we work with those af­fected to try to find them a set­tled home. This work means so much to these in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies, and we will con­tinue to do all we can, de­spite the im­pact of aus­ter­ity on our bud­get.

A re­cent anal­y­sis I saw showed that South La­nark­shire Coun­cil has had to find sav­ings of £166 mil­lion in the last 10 years, and a com­mit­tee re­port last month iden­ti­fied the need to find £13m more in the 2018/19 bud­get.

This means more tough choices, but I am de­ter­mined that we will do all we can to pro­tect key front­line ser­vices, not just with re­gard to home­less­ness, but across ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial work and all that the coun­cil does.

We are cur­rently con­sid­er­ing op­tions on how to make those sav­ings and I am very keen to hear the views of res­i­dents, so I would urge you, if you have a few min­utes, to get more in­for­ma­tion on the coun­cil’s web­site at www.south­la­nark­shire.gov. uk/sav­ings or by send­ing views to the ded­i­cated email ad­dress sav­[email protected] south­la­nark­shire.gov.uk – they can also be sent by post to: Sav­ings Con­sul­ta­tion, South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, Al­mada Street, Hamil­ton ML3 0AA.

Rais­ing aware­ness Coun­cil­lors Josh Wil­son and John Ross ahead of the sleep-out

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