Homeless Edinburgh: Housing Secretary Shona Robison shrugs off calls for fairer funding for Capital

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs has accused Housing Secretary Shona Robison of being oblivious to Edinburgh's homelessness crisis after she shrugged off his appeal for fairer funding to tackle the problem and snubbed his request for a meeting.

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The number of open homeless applications in the Capital has risen by more than a third in two years and over 1,500 children are in temporary accommodation.

But Edinburgh missed out on £9.3 million of Scottish Government funding because homelessness is handled by the council itself rather than by the city’s integration joint board (IJB), which oversees health and social care. Glasgow qualified for extra cash because it has transferred responsibility to the IJB.

Mr Briggs asked Ms Robison in the Scottish Parliament about government support to end homelessness and rough sleeping in Edinburgh.

He said: “In the Capital, 5,147 people are registered as homeless and 1,505 children are in temporary accommodation. Edinburgh faces a homelessness and housing crisis, but it is being short-changed by £9.3 million due to a bureaucratic anomaly. Will she agree to urgently meet me, representatives from across the capital and the city council leaders in order to fix the situation and give the capital the resources that we need to end homelessness?”

Ms Robison stressed the majority of funding for tackling homelessness was provided through the annual local government finance settlement.

"In relation to the £9.3 million, Miles Briggs will be aware that what has happened is a result of the choices that the city council made about where homelessness services sit. It is for the council, not for the Scottish Government, to decide whether changes are made. That decision is for local decision makers. If Miles Briggs thinks that they should be delivering their homelessness services separately and differently, he should discuss that with them.”

Homelessness applications have risen by 35 per cent in two years.

Council leaders say they have also been lobbying ministers on the issue and have pledged to continue arguing the Capital’s case until they get “fairer funding” because “the area in Scotland with the greatest housing need and some of the most worrying figures on homelessness is Edinburgh”.

Open homelessness applications in the city rose from 3,818 in September 2019 to 5,147 in September 2021, an increase of 35 per cent.

Following his exchange in parliament, Mr Briggs said: “We are facing a homelessness crisis across the capital and based on Shona Robison’s answer, it would suggest that she is oblivious to it.

Miles Briggs says Shona Robison is "oblivious" to Edinburgh's homelessness crisis. Picture: Greg Macvean.

“Passing the buck onto Edinburgh council has become a core strategy for SNP ministers, which is unacceptable.

Homelessness in Edinburgh is on the rise and homelessness prevention is not being properly funded.

“The pledge by all parties to end homelessness during this parliament is worthless if SNP and Green ministers aren’t actually committed to it.

“I have written again to Shona Robison to request an urgent meeting with Edinburgh and Lothian MSPs about homelessness prevention.

“It is very disappointing that attempts for a meeting have been ignored to date, despite promises to work cross party in tackling homelessness across Scotland.

“SNP and Green ministers must act now to end homelessness and rough sleeping in Edinburgh.”

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