During Portfolio Questions on Wednesday 6th December, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, secured confirmation from the Scottish Government that the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group is primarily focused on long term and sustainable solutions to ending rough sleeping for good.

The short term action group was set up in October to recommend actions and legislative changes required across all levels of government to tackle homelessness and the use of temporary accommodation. The group is being chaired by Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of the homelessness charity Crisis.

The group moved quickly to provide a series of recommendations to minimise rough sleeping this winter, focused on increased emergency accommodation and outreach provision for people at risk of rough sleeping. The First Minister accepted these recommendations last week and moves are now underway to rapidly implement them, backed by £262,000 of Scottish Government funding.

Whilst welcoming this initial and immediate action, however, Ruth went on to underline the need for long term and sustainable solutions, which prevent people from rough sleeping in the first place.

Responding, Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart, confirmed that the focus of the group going forward will be on longer term solutions, stating that:

“The action group has begun work on the longer term challenges that we set it—of ending rough sleeping for good, of transforming the use of temporary accommodation and of moving towards ending homelessness.

The Government is committed to tackling and preventing homelessness, and we look forward to the forthcoming recommendations on the longer-term actions that are needed.

Commenting, Ruth said:

“I warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s acceptance of the Action Group’s recommendations to tackle rough sleeping this winter – backed £262,000 of Scottish Government funding.

I was also pleased to hear the Minister confirm that, as well as acting immediately to reduce harm this winter, the Action Group is primarily focused on developing recommendations for longer term sustainable solutions that will end rough sleeping for good – an ambition that we should all share.”

North Ayrshire SNP Spokesperson for Housing, Tony Gurney, added:

“No one in Scotland should have to sleep rough and North Ayrshire SNP welcomes this initiative to find a sustainable solution to this problem.

Under the previous SNP administration, this Council became one of the first local authorities across Scotland to ensure sufficient places are provided for anyone who might find themselves becoming homeless in North Ayrshire.

If you believe you are at risk of becoming homeless, please act on it because there is help out there. North Ayrshire Council has a specialised Homelessness Assessment Prevention and Advice Team. They can be contacted on 01294 314600 or 0800 019 6500 out of hours, via housing-info-advice@north-ayrshire.gov.uk.”