Temporary Accommodation (Glasgow)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 February 2024.

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Photo of Pam Duncan-Glancy Pam Duncan-Glancy Labour

6. To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s response is to reports that the number of people living in temporary accommodation in Glasgow has increased by 25 per cent. (S6F-02861)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Statistics that were published on Tuesday highlight the challenges that we face in tackling homelessness. That has undoubtedly been compounded by the cost of living crisis, the impact of UK Government austerity and the economic repercussions of the pandemic, which are all driving up homelessness presentations. The Home Office’s streamlined asylum process is also impacting on local authorities, especially Glasgow City Council, which is creating increased demands for homelessness services.

The Scottish Government is doing what we can within the powers and the financial constraints that we have to mitigate the impact and reduce the number of people who are in temporary accommodation. We are providing record funding of more than £14 billion to councils in 2024-25, which is a real-terms increase of 4.3 per cent compared with the current financial year. The Minister for Housing has been meeting housing conveners to discuss homelessness and housing pressures.

Photo of Pam Duncan-Glancy Pam Duncan-Glancy Labour

The report to which the First Minister referred, which I assume he has read, also says that the Scottish Government report stated that a lack of affordable housing options was partly to blame for the rise in the number of children who required temporary accommodation. Why did the First Minister vote for a £196 million cut to the affordable housing budget on the same day that the Government published a report that blamed a lack of such housing for being a cause of the hike in the number of children in temporary accommodation?

The First Minister:

The Government has a strong record of building record levels of affordable housing and providing money for tackling homelessness. For example, the budget is investing £90 million for discretionary housing payments in 2024-25, which is an increase of more than £6 million on this financial year. It also includes £74 million to mitigate the bedroom tax, which is something that Sir Keir Starmer wants to retain.

Independent analysis by Crisis shows that austerity-driven policies, including the two-child limit, are undoubtedly driving up homelessness right across the country. I say to Pam Duncan-Glancy that we are facing a Conservative cut of £1.6 billion to our capital budget and a £290 million cut to the financial transaction funding that is crucial to house building. It would be so much better if Scotland was not at the mercy of cruel Westminster Governments cutting our budget and if we could raise our own revenue and make spending decisions in our own country’s interests, as opposed to having to battle 14 years of austerity and a cost of living crisis that is worse than we have seen in living memory.

Photo of Annie Wells Annie Wells Conservative

At the very end of last year, the Scottish Housing Regulator published updated engagement plans for Glasgow and Edinburgh councils. The regulator found systemic failure in the delivery of services to people experiencing homelessness. What has the Scottish Government done to address those failures and to prevent them in future?

The First Minister:

I go back to the independent analysis by stakeholders such as Crisis, which says that the austerity-driven policies of the UK Government are increasing homelessness figures not only in Glasgow but right across the United Kingdom.

We will continue investing in discretionary housing payments and will continue doing what we can to mitigate the worst excesses of the UK Government. We will give £35 million for specific action to end homelessness and rough sleeping, where we can.

I go back to the point that I made to Pam Duncan-Glancy: the Conservatives are threatening to cut our capital budget by £1.6 billion over the next five years and have cut by 62 per cent the financial transaction funding that is crucial to the affordable housing supply programme. If Annie Wells wants to have any influence whatsoever, rather than raising those issues here—which she has every right to do—she could use her influence with her own party colleagues to demand that the Tories’ cuts to our budget are reversed and that the 14 years of austerity that they have imposed on Scotland be halted, and halted immediately.

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

We move to general and constituency supplementary questions. If members can be concise, more members will be able to contribute.