Rough Sleeping (Audit)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th October 2017.

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Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

I welcome the establishment of the homelessness and rough sleeping action group. Does the First Minister recognise that rough sleeping is, sadly, on the rise, that it is likely that we face a further increase in rough sleeping through a bleak winter, and that it is urgent that we act? I am sure that she agrees that it is not acceptable that anyone is sleeping on the streets anywhere in Scotland.

Shelter Scotland has confirmed that the number of homelessness applications in which the applicant had slept rough the night before making the application increased by 10 per cent last year. In view of that increase, does the First Minister agree that it would be helpful to have a fresh assessment of the scale of the issue, through the action group? According to Homeless Action Scotland, there has not been an audit since 2003.

I ask the First Minister—in a constructive manner—to consider taking a housing-led approach and not a hostel-led approach. While recognising that the work of the charity sector and local government partners is key, does she agree that there is a case for national roll-out of the housing first model—I know that she has acknowledged that model in the past—which recognises the multiple disadvantages that homeless people face when trying to establish stability in their life? I hope that she will agree—