Homelessness

– in the Scottish Parliament on 4th February 2021.

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Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to reduce homelessness. (S5O-04980)

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

We have an ambitious strategy to end homelessness, backed by a £50 million fund. We updated our strategy in October 2020, following recommendations from the homelessness and rough sleeping action group.

We have committed £37.5 million to support councils to implement rapid rehousing, and our housing first pathfinder programme has delivered more than 400 tenancies. We have increased protections for people experiencing domestic abuse and replaced night shelters, and we are making excellent progress towards our goal of eradicating rough sleeping.

Our strategy is informed by the voices of those with lived experience and steered by the homelessness prevention and strategy group, which I co-chair with the community wellbeing spokesperson of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

The reality is that the extension of the unsuitable accommodation order for all homeless persons has twice been delayed and the affordable housing budget has just been reduced by £132 million. Those actions by the Government are hampering efforts to reduce homelessness. Does the minister agree with Shelter Scotland that building affordable housing should be the “cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery” from the pandemic? Will the Scottish Government reverse the cut to the affordable housing budget?

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I agree that housing should be the cornerstone of our recovery. We have invested heavily in social and affordable housing during this parliamentary session and we will continue to do so in future.

On our budget, I would say to Mary Fee and other colleagues that we have faced a cut from Westminster of £218 million in housing consequentials. We have faced a cut of 66.5 per cent in financial transactions—[

Inaudible

.]—amounts to £312 million. If Mary Fee and other colleagues want to join me in calling on Westminster to reverse those cuts so that we can consider supporting housing to a greater degree here in Scotland, I would welcome that. I appeal to all members to join us and say to the UK Government, “This is not good enough, and we want that money back.”