Homeless applications across South Ayrshire have shown a sharp increase, according to new figures.

Official data shows there was a 10 per cent rise in applications for 2022-23 compared to the previous 12 months.

The number of children associated with applications assessed as homeless or threatened by homelessness also rose in South Ayrshire by 26 per cent.

However, the number of children living in temporary accommodation in South Ayrshire dropped by 14 per cent between 2022 and 2023.

Across Scotland, 39,006 homelessness applications were made in the past year, marking an increase of 3,247 compared to 2021-22.

In South Ayrshire the number of homelessness applications went up from 794 in 2021-22 to 874 last year.

The number of children associated with homelessness applications, or threatened with becoming homeless, rose from 280 to 353 year-on-year.

The number of children in temporary accommodation in the area dropped from 105 to 90 over the same period.

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South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the UK and Scottish Governments of ‘chronic inaction’ on the homelessness crisis, following the release of the figures.

He called for more long-term solutions after the rent freeze failed to reverse the tidal wave of homelessness caused by the Tory economic crisis.

Colin Smyth said: “This shocking situation is a damning indictment of both the UK and Scottish Governments who have presided over this crisis with chronic inaction.

“We need real solutions to get more people in our region properly housed.  

“If you look at the figures for our region, homelessness applications have increased in both East and South Ayrshire in the past year.

"The fact there are so many children within these figures, and dozens living in temporary accommodation, should shame us all.

“These stark figures must be a wake-up call.

“Too many people in our area are in crisis and local services are struggling to support them.

“Even one household without somewhere to live is one too many.”

Ayr Advertiser: MSP Colin Smyth MSP Colin Smyth (Image: PA)

Housing minister Paul McLennan has called the figures "deeply worrying", and said that works must be done to tackle homelessness.

He said: “These statistics are deeply worrying. They show Scotland is facing the same trend as the rest of the UK where there is a clear impact on households of the current cost of living crisis and the continuing fall out from the pandemic on homelessness.

"Tackling homelessness is a key priority and it is critical that local government and other partners work with us to reach our shared goal of reversing these figures and delivering on our long term strategy for tackling homelessness.

“I am very disappointed by the high number of people, including many children, who were living in temporary accommodation in March 2023.

"Scotland has the strongest rights across the UK nations for people experiencing homelessness and - whilst it shows our legislation is working to make sure people are not roofless and provided with a home - temporary accommodation should be just that; temporary."

Ayr Advertiser: Housing Minister Paul McLennanHousing Minister Paul McLennan (Image: NQ Archive)

He added: "I have been meeting with housing conveners in the areas with the greatest homelessness pressures and discussing action we can take collectively to reverse these figures.

"We are already acting on the recommendations of the expert Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group, including providing funding for councils and social landlords to rapidly acquire properties for use as social homes, asking social landlords to increase allocations to homeless households, and supporting councils to develop targeted plans.

“As well as local authorities and social landlords, we are working with key partners – including the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, the Scottish Housing Regulator and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations – to consider what we need to do differently to reduce the use of temporary accommodation.

“We are also investing heavily to increase housing supply and the number of affordable homes completed in the latest year to end March 2023 is the highest annual figure in more than two decades.

“The statistics also indicate our emergency tenant protection legislation has led to a drop in households becoming homeless from a private tenancy and we intend to take forward legislation to provide greater protections to prevent homelessness, keep rents affordable, and make tenancies more secure.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are determined to prevent homelessness before it occurs. Temporary accommodation ensures no family is without a roof over their head, but we have been clear that the use of B&Bs should always be a last resort.

“We have given £2 billion over three years to help local authorities tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, targeted to areas where it is needed most.

“We are set to spend over £30 billion on housing support this year, on top of significant cost-of-living help worth around £3,300 per household. We’ve also maintained our £1 billion boost to Local Housing Allowance, while our discretionary housing payments provide a safety net for anyone struggling to meet their rent or housing costs.”