National Records of Scotland (NRS) revealed earlier this week that the number of people who died in Scotland while homeless rose to more than 200 in 2019 – estimated to be 216 people – an increase of 11 per cent on the figure of 195 in 2018.
In response to these figures, MSP Alison Johnstone questioned Nicola Sturgeon on whether or not a permanent eviction ban will be in place to prevent further cases of homelessness during First Minister Questions on Thursday.
Ms Sturgeon responded, highlighting “differences of opinion” on the best way to proceed and said discussions are underway about whether or not to introduce a permanent ban on winter evictions or not.
Speaking in Parliament she said: “After discussions with Patrick Harvie and Andy Wightman, we want to reduce evictions and homelessness. But there are differences of opinion.”
She said concerns have been raised about a winter ban leading to a “spike” in evictions during the spring months following studies in France.
Ms Sturgeon confirmed the Scottish Government has currently extended the ban on evictions as the country is still under strict lockdown restrictions.
"We have already extended the ban on evictions and we will do that again should that be necessary,” she said.
"It’s really important."
When the Green Party MSP challenged Ms Sturgeon about the government’s efforts on boosting household incomes, the First Minister responded saying the discussions about concessionary travel for younger people in Scotland is underway and officials are already “taking action” to introduce the Scottish Child Payment – a scheme families can apply for where, if successful, they can receive a weekly payment of £10 for every child who is under six years old.
Ms Sturgeon then claimed the Scottish Government has a “good track record” for dealing with child poverty issues but said “there is lots of work still to be done.”
The NRS homelessness report revealed that Inverclyde and South Ayrshire had the highest rates of homeless deaths per million population aged 15 to 74, with a rate of 213.2 and 120.3 in 2019.