THE Scottish Government has said it is committed to finding long-term solutions for people sleeping rough in Scottish cities who were offered places in hotels to get them off the streets during lockdown.

Last week it was claimed the UK Government funding for its equivalent scheme – Everyone In – was to be pulled. A leaked document revealed by the Manchester Evening News showed that there would be no more funding for the scheme, which has helped to take around 5400 people off the streets.

Homeless charity Crisis described the decision as “completely unacceptable”. But the UK Government has said it is “simply wrong and misleading”, claiming people would now be moved into alternative accommodation.

However, Scotland’s Housing Minister Kevin Stewart insisted that Scotland was committed to doing things differently.

It has funded Simon Community co-ordinated efforts to ensure that all street homeless people were offered accommodation in hotels in Scottish cities.

In Edinburgh, plans have also involved wrap around health care, provided by Dr John Budd and his team from the Edinburgh Access Practice.

In Glasgow, it is understood that people are being moved on quickly from hotels, although some concerns have been raised about the use of homeless B&Bs as temporary accommodation.

Stewart told the Sunday National: “The pandemic has shown what we can do if we work together to address social issues. It has been challenging and will remain so but we are determined to ensure everyone has a secure and settled home once the crisis ends.”

“Thanks to a rapid and co-ordinated response, hundreds of people previously sleeping rough or in unsuitable B&Bs or night shelters are now being supported in hotels or other self-contained accommodation. Outreach services are reporting that there are no more than 30 people sleeping rough across Scotland.

“This will continue in Scotland, however settled accommodation with the correct support measures continues to be the best way of solving homelessness in the longer term.”

The Scottish Government says it has provided about £700,000 to third sector organisations, allowing them to pay for emergency hotel accommodation for those who are street homeless.

Stewart added: “It includes rough sleepers and people with no recourse to public funds, such as destitute asylum seekers – and we have no plans to withdraw funding.

“Rapid rehousing is the key to getting anyone experiencing homelessness into settled accommodation and remains the focus of the Scottish Government.”

The confirmation was welcomed by homeless charity Shelter Scotland, which said that the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for systemic change to how homeless people were supported.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We have seen some tremendous leadership from the Scottish Government and some local councils working with charities to get people off the streets and we whole-heartedly welcome the commitment to ensure they never go back.

“The fact is they shouldn’t have been there in the first place and we now know that when the will is there we see results.

“In the past we have been told that it is a shortage of accommodation, and in particular, suitable accommodation, that has left some people out of mainstream housing – we lack detailed information on how that problem will be overcome.

“But make no mistake it must be overcome. Housing is a basic right and this pandemic has made that crystal clear.”