IN Thursday’s National, the tragedy of the death rate amongst homeless people is mentioned on page 14 (Scottish Homeless death rate is double England’s, February 6).

Obviously, the ultimate solution is the provision of more “affordable council housing” suitable for single persons. Incidentally, I would always classify single accommodation as having two bedrooms except in exceptional circumstances. I advocate such a policy because of the number of single men, or women, who have become divorced. In a one-bedroom house they would have no way of accommodating any children from the marriage for “overnight access”. Also, older people would have no way of accommodating family who come from a distance to visit them.

READ MORE: Call for Scottish Government take urgent action on homelessness

With these terrible death rates the situation has now become an emergency. Isn’t it time the Scottish Government was looking around at the many empty buildings, some of which are empty for tax purposes, with a view to taking over any that are suitable for alteration into homeless accommodation?

I don’t know about other towns or cities, but here in Glenrothes we are seeing the demolition of a multi-storey council office block. Now, this must have had a large number of private or communal offices that could have been transformed into bedrooms, sitting rooms and kitchens suitable for a large number of people. Obviously, there must already be toilets to deal with large numbers, since large numbers already worked in it. Regrettably this opportunity has now been lost, but surely the SNP government could seek out similar opportunities elsewhere?

A hotel has stood derelict for at least the past 12 years right in the centre of town. It is now attracting vandals who smash the windows and disfigured the outside of the building. It is quickly becoming an eyesore. Could that not now be taken over by the government through some form of compulsory purchase order and have a bit spent on it to bring it back into use as temporary housing for the homeless? Even if it got only a couple of dozen folk off the streets, that’s surely an improvement on the present situation. I’m sure it would cost less to refurbish it than it would cost to seek out a suitably convenient site, demolish whatever’s on it and build new accommodation from scratch.

The irony is that it stands right opposite what was until recently the DHSS Office. How convenient would that have been for social workers dealing with homeless people, when the housing for the people they are dealing with was right opposite the building in which they work? Alas, that opportunity is also lost. The DHSS building is now closed (thank you, Westminster) and up “for sale or to let”.

Of course, the fact that so much of the “social security system” is reserved to Westminster and out of the hands of our own government only exacerbates the situation. That’s something else that would be greatly improved on with independence. And maybe that’s the biggest part of the problem. Does Holyrood have any right to take over such buildings and convert them for “social security” purposes? Or is this just something else that’s reserved to Westminster and prevents our Scottish Government from doing what’s best for Scotland?

Charlie Kerr

HOW to win conservatives over to independence? Michael Fry (February 4) would have us embrace neo-liberal economics, to help with society and embrace capitalistic greed for all its worth.

I have a better idea – why not wait a while and see just how quickly England starts to sink now the EU brakes are off? It’s no mystery that Tory voters couldn’t give a fig for those less fortunate, but surely their enormous sense of self-interest must kick in eventually! The Tories are already coming for the pensioners.

I suspect there is something of the coiled snake in the First Minister and her ever-so-gentle approach these days...

RJ Bulloch