Edinburgh housing crisis: City is missing out on millions to tackle homelessness for no good reason – Miles Briggs MSP

At the beginning of this year, the Evening News reported on how Edinburgh Council has lost out on approximately £9.3 million in homelessness prevention funding due to a “bureaucratic anomaly”.

Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council just keep passing the buck over homelessness funds (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council just keep passing the buck over homelessness funds (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

My colleague Andrew Johnston, Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson at Edinburgh Council, highlighted the funding shortfall to tackle homelessness in the city.

The council administers homelessness prevention funding directly, whereas Glasgow Council does this through an Integrated Joint Board, IJB.

In 2020/21, Glasgow was able to recover £8.8m through a health remobilisation plan, money designed to facilitate the resumption of services which were paused due to the pandemic.

Since Councillor Johnston raised the issue of Edinburgh Council missing out on vital funds to prevent homelessness, I have, on two separate occasions, raised the issue at Holyrood.

On January 26, I raised the funding deficit with Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur, who said he had not received any correspondence, but would write to me. I am still waiting on a response.

On February 9, I again raised the funding deficit, this time with the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, Shona Robison.

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Edinburgh losing out on homelessness cash due to ‘bureaucratic anomaly’

In a written response on the issue, she wrote: “The City of Edinburgh Council has not delegated homelessness services to Edinburgh City integration authority and so funding provided to the integration authority cannot be used to tackle homelessness.”

It is very concerning that the Cabinet Secretary has failed to acknowledge the funding shortfall for tackling homelessness in Edinburgh or taken action to rectify the shortfall.

SNP ministers and the SNP/Labour-run Edinburgh Council are passing the buck over missing Edinburgh homelessness funding, which is unacceptable. People in Edinburgh who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless should not be losing out because of how homeless prevention is administered in the capital.

Andrew Johnston has now escalated the issue, writing to Edinburgh Council’s finance and resources convener to request a report on delegating homelessness prevention to Edinburgh’s IJB.

Inaction by SNP ministers and SNP/Labour councillors means that the only way Edinburgh can become eligible for the £9.3m funding retrospectively, is to transfer authority for homelessness prevention over to the IJB.

Homelessness prevention is a goal which all parties in Scotland have committed their support to, but there has been a lack of progress so far.

In Edinburgh, we must be doing much more to prevent homelessness and support people who are homeless into long-term accommodation.

We still have far too many children who are in temporary accommodation. The number of children and families in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh has increased over the last two years, with 1,505 children in temporary accommodation in September 2019, compared to 1,515 children in temporary accommodation in September 2021.

Figures released last month showed that the number of open homeless applications in the Capital rose by nearly 35 per cent between September 2019 and September 2021, from 3,818 to 5,147.

In the period between April and September 2021, 780 households lost their home, while there were 290 cases of households being refused temporary accommodation when their application should have been accepted.

We have a housing emergency in Edinburgh and it is a vital issue that we are not receiving a funding deficit to tackle homelessness due to an administrative issue.

Miles Briggs is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian

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