THE hopes of homeless families are being taken away by the Scottish Government’s efforts to tackle the issue, a councillor has claimed.

Local authorities were asked to submit plans to tackle homelessness in their communities to Scottish Ministers as part of a nationwide rapid rehousing project.

But when East Lothian Council produced a £7million programme, which would allow 860 new tenancies to be created along with new housing, they were stunned to be told the money was not there.

Instead, they were asked to produce a second proposal without the capital costs taking the amount of funds needed down to £2.4million – then they were offered just £160,000 for its first year.

At a meeting of the council’s cabinet, officials said the amount allocated to the local authority was decided by the number of homeless applications received over the last three years and not by looking at the programme of work each local authority needed to fund.

Nicky Sandford, housing options team manager, said the methodology used meant some councils who needed to carry out less work received far more money than others.

She added that when the Scottish Government put forward their Rapid Rehousing project they only set aside £19million to fund all local authorities across Scotland, but the money asked for by councils topped £126million.

Councillor Andrew Forrest said the lack of funds offered to East Lothian Council meant the local authority would not be able to deliver the housing needed to meet demand.

He said: “What the Scottish Government is doing is taking away the last thing that homeless families have and that is hope that they will get their forever home.”

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, cabinet spokesperson for housing, said he shared the frustration of housing officers who had been optimistic that their plan would be met with the necessary funds.

He said: “The resource impact of Ministers’ decision not to fund our plans are eye-watering.

“I share officers’ frustration with the total failure of Scottish Government to take any cognisance of the costs of these plans.”

The council’s original Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) involved creating 860 new tenancies, an additional 102 new affordable houses, turning 150 temporary accommodation units into permanent housing and creating 50 housing first placements.

A third revised plan is now being drawn up based on the funding which has been made available.

Cabinet members were also told that the Scottish Government is pushing ahead with proposals which will see local authorities unable to restrict housing to homeless people who have a local connection.

The move will mean homeless people from anywhere in Scotland will have a right to to be housed in East Lothian leading to a rise in applications.

Ms Sandford said the impact of an increased demand along with the restricted funds would put pressure on the council’s housing services.

She told the cabinet: “I do not think it is going to be possible to deliver our Rapid Rehousing ambitions however there are a significant number of things that are within our gift and control.”

Cabinet members agreed to write to Scottish Ministers urging a meeting to discuss the issue.

Kevin Stewart MSP, Scottish housing minister, insisted the Scottish Government was committed to ending rough sleeping and homelessness and rapid rehousing programmes were its priority.

He said:  “We have allocated £24 million over three years for rapid rehousing so that local authorities and partners can support people at risk of sleeping rough and those living in temporary accommodation into settled accommodation first; and then help with any longer-term needs.

“This funding is in addition to the budget available to local authorities to support homeless.

“We continue to work with councils on our shared goal of ending homelessness and supporting people in local communities across Scotland.”