Scottish Government announces £50 million fund to tackle homelessness

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the Scottish Government is to set up a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, backed with £50 million over five years to "eradicate rough sleeping"

The Scottish Government has today committed to invest £10 million a year over five years to tackle homelessness north of the border, with a specific focus on prevention and tackling the root causes of homelessness.

Speaking in Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the £50million fund, and confirmed that the government is to set up a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group tasked with eradicating of rough sleeping.

Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament: “Scotland has a good record on housing – we are building social housing at a faster rate than any other part of the UK and we have protected social housing by removing the right to buy.

We must eradicate rough sleeping.

“However, as Westminster austerity and welfare cuts take their toll, we are seeing worrying signs of an increase in homelessness and rough sleeping. We are not prepared to tolerate that.

“Let me restate today a conviction that I hope will unite all of us. It is not acceptable for anyone to have to sleep rough on our streets. We must eradicate rough sleeping.

We will invest to help tackle some of the underlying problems which so often drive homelessness

“However, in setting that national objective, we also must recognise that it requires more than just housing. Every individual has unique needs and challenges. We will therefore establish a short life expert group to make urgent recommendations on the actions, services and legislative changes required to end rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation.

“To support its recommendations, we will establish a new £10 million a year ‘Ending Homelessness Together’ Fund. And we will invest an additional £20 million a year in alcohol and drug services, to help tackle some of the underlying problems which so often drive homelessness.

Homelessness and housing charities welcomed the news.

Last year, a household became homeless every 19 minutes in Scotland

Adam Lang, Head of Communications and Policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “The announcement of a new action group to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping is extremely welcome.

A stark message on homeless deaths was emblazoned on the empty BHS in Glasgow

“The challenges facing this new action group are significant. Last year, a household became homeless every 19 minutes in Scotland and tomorrow morning more than 6,000 children will wake up without a permanent home of their own.

“The need for action is urgent and we look forward to working with the new group to quickly deliver changes on the ground to see improved support for those currently enduring or at risk of homelessness.”

“I warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s renewed commitment to tackling homelessness and their £50million investment in finding solutions to this issue,” added Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis. “Banishing rough sleeping from our streets is an ambition we fully support and chimes with our intention to produce a plan to end homelessness in Scotland for good.

“The use of temporary accommodation in Scotland is on the rise and at Crisis we have particular concerns about the number of individuals left to languish for months in unsuitable forms of temporary accommodation, without access to cooking facilities the use of a washing machine or no bathroom of their own.

“Our members tell us living in limbo like this can have an impact on their confidence, state of mind and ability to find or sustain work. Crisis looks forward to the opportunity to work with the Scottish Government to ensure Councils provide the same rights to all homeless people and are supported into permanent accommodation as quickly as possible.”