Edinburgh SNP in pledge to create ‘homelessness champion’

The SNP has pledged to create a 'homelessness' champion.
The SNP has pledged to create a 'homelessness' champion.
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THE SNP plans to create a new post of “homelessness champion” if it wins control of the city council next month.

The party is pledging to invest in homelessness services and “end the indignity of families living in bed and breakfast accommodation”.

And it says appointing a champion to stand up for the needs of homeless people would be one of the first actions of an SNP administration.

The role would be filled by a councillor who would be charged with leading the agenda to improve conditions for homeless people in the city and work to eradicate homelessness altogether.

Official figures published earlier this year showed Edinburgh recorded the biggest increase in Scotland in the number of households in temporary accommodation.

On September 30 last year there were 1044 households in temporary accommodation in the city - the highest figure for two years. And the number of homeless families with children in bed and breakfast accommodation had risen from zero the previous year to ten.

SNP group leader Frank Ross said: “Tackling Edinburgh’s housing issues will be one of the top priorities for an SNP administration.

“There are almost a dozen policy pledges in our manifesto which directly or indirectly expand the provision of housing, tackle large rent increases in the private sector and address homelessness in Edinburgh.

“There is no doubt our services and provision for people in need of temporary accommodation could be dramatically improved and that’s what we’re determined to do.

“We’ve already started to the work necessary to shift away from BnB’s as the primary method for providing temporary accommodation but we recognise we need to go further.

“The appointment of a homeless champion will push this issue up the political agenda and give people affected by housing problems a strong voice at the top table of an SNP administration.”

He said a similar role of carers’ champion, performed by SNP councillor Norrie Work, had helped keep the political pressure on the council to make sure there was support for unpaid carers.

Cllr Ross said options to create new temporary accommodation included converting existing buildings to residential accommodation and procuring residential accommodation in the market place.

Kate Campbell, SNP candidate for Portobello, said a crucial part of the party’s plans to tackle the city’s housing needs would be expanding the number of affordable homes.

“We are already committed to building 16,000 new social and affordable housing over 10 years, which is a significant increase, but we feel we need to go further. With support from the Scottish Government we will stretch the housebuilding target to 20,000 over the next 10 years.”