Ministers pledge extra funding to tackle growing homelessness in Scotland

Campaigners gather in Glasgow to protest the proposed eviction of asylum seekers in the city in July 2018. Picture: John Devlin
Campaigners gather in Glasgow to protest the proposed eviction of asylum seekers in the city in July 2018. Picture: John Devlin
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The Scottish Government will provide extra funding to tackle the growing issue of homelessness north of the Border, housing minister Kevin Stewart has announced.

A range of programmes across the country will benefit from the £164,000 in additional cash, with a focus on assisting rough sleepers - many of whom have suffered significant trauma in their lives.

But Scottish Labour said the SNP was failing to effectively tackle what had become a “national emergency”.

The fresh funding is in addition to the money which local authorities already receive from Holyrood to support those who declare themselves without a place to live.

It will help frontline workers who can offer immediate help to people at risk of rough sleeping in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

READ MORE: Homelessness having ‘devastating impact’ on rising numbers of people

The number of homeless applications north of the Border increased by three per cent - or 892 applications - in 2018/19.

As of March 31, there were 10,989 households living in temporary accommodation in Scotland, with more than a third of those households including at least one child or pregnant woman.

Announcing the funding on World Homeless Day, Mr Stewart said: “The truth is people experiencing rough sleeping will have backgrounds of significant trauma including domestic abuse, adverse childhood experiences, bereavement, mental and physical ill health and substance use.

“This extra support will help local authorities and organisations on the frontline working tirelessly to safeguard people in crisis with nowhere left to turn.

“The final goal remains ending homelessness altogether, however in the shorter term it is important we work hard this winter to provide the right type of support for people who are at risk of experiencing the worst forms of homelessness.”

A commission on the issue set up by Scottish Labour, which reported this week, called for public sector led-developments to be at the forefront of the country’s approach.

The party said it would tackle the crisis of undersupply, unaffordability and quality through increased investment, new legislation and a new government agency to drive housing supply across Scotland.

Scottish Labour’s Housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said the party was “appalled by the SNP’s failure to tackle homelessness”.

She added: “Additional money to help those in crisis is welcome but the government is failing to effectively curb this national emergency, with around 13,500 people sleeping rough or in hostels or shelters.

“There is no silver bullet to end the crisis - only increased investment in preventing homelessness will do.

“Private rent caps, more social housing, protecting local services and higher wages are vital if the SNP is to eradicate homelessness completely.”