Edinburgh council still needs answers on why it missed out on £9m homelessness funding
Edinburgh is still waiting for answers on why a “bureaucratic anomaly” means it is losing out on £9 million of much-needed cash to help tackle homelessness.
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Glasgow council has handed responsibility for homelessness to the city’s integration joint board (IJB), which oversees health and social care, and last year it received £8.8m for homelessness work through the 2020/21 health mobilisation plan, while Edinburgh council – which has not transferred responsibility to its IJB – was unable to recover equivalent costs of £9.3m.
Andrew Johnston, Tory finance spokesman at the council, highlighted the issue last month and it was taken up in the Scottish Parliament by Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs.
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He said he had raised it in turn with public finance minister Tom Arthur and then Shona Robison, Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government. Both had promised to write to him but he had not heard from them yet.
"I'm really keen we turn this around as quickly as we can,” said Mr Briggs. “It seems to be a complete financial anomaly that Edinburgh is not able to claim but Glasgow is. It's millions of pounds that should be able to be reclaimed for support schemes around homelessness.
“I want the government to actually look into this and instead of just fudging the issue we get this resolved.
"Glasgow has done a lot of good work to reduce rough sleeping and homelessness and maybe that's because they’ve had the additional resources compared to the Capital.”
City finance convener Rob Munn said the council had been trying to have the issue sorted out for a while and it had been raised with the government by council leader Adam McVey and depute leader Cammy Day.
“The question has been there for some time. It has formed part of a number of representations Edinburgh has made. We have never got to the stage when we've got an answer so far, but that doesn’t mean we're going to stop pushing on it.
“We feel we have a unique position in terms of homelessness in Edinburgh and the pressure is quite intense. We want to make sure people have a better quality of temporary accommodation and are permanently rehoused as quickly as possible.”
And following a call from Councillor Johnston for a joint approach to the government on the issue, he said he hoped to meet soon with the finance spokespeople of all the other parties and move forward on a cross-party basis.
But he said the unresolved problem would not affect the allocation of funding when the council sets its 2022/23 budget next week.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Edinburgh has not delegated homelessness services to the integration authority and so funding provided to the integration authority cannot be used to tackle homelessness.
“Since March 2020, funding has been provided to NHS boards and integration authorities by the Scottish Government’s health and social care portfolio to support the additional costs of Covid-19. As agreed between Cosla and the Scottish Government, this is temporary financial support to all services delegated to the integration authorities.”