HOMELESS Scots will be given long-term and settled accommodation as soon as possible as part of a fresh drive to help people off the streets.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon pledged to end rough sleeping and homelessness, with a £50 million fund launched last year.

Ministers have now rolled out a new action plan to combat the issue as many homeless people prepare to weather the harsh winter months.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell insisted everyone “needs a safe, warm place to call home”.

She said: “It's more than a place to live – it's where we feel secure, have roots and a sense of belonging.

"The causes of homelessness can be complex and that's why all services need to be joined up. Working together we can end homelessness for good.

"The First Minister made a commitment in this year's Programme for Government to end rough sleeping and homelessness and this is what will get us there.

“The plan builds on the many changes in homelessness and affordable housing we have delivered in recent years, including more than £3 billion to deliver 35,000 homes for social rent and the multi-million pound Ending Homelessness Together Fund.”

Ms Campbell was speaking as she visited a food distribution centre run by the charity Cyrenians in Edinburgh.

The new plan sets out a range of measures for national and local government, as well as third sector organisations which provide frontline services.

Ministers said people living in temporary accommodation or at risk of homelessness are already being supported into permanent homes through an investment of £23.5m – part of the wider £50m funding pot.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the charity Crisis, said: "This is an ambitious plan that firmly positions Scotland as a world-leader in ending homelessness.

“The turnaround has been swift and the approach is bold but achievable if the commitment is shared across local government, housing associations and homelessness charities.

“The plan has people at its heart and makes clear that the best approach is to prevent homelessness in the first place, however we need to see a prevention duty in law for all public bodies as well as an ambitious set of targets which demonstrates that homelessness has been ended for more people.

"However, overall this plan presents us with a chance to get behind bold and transformative reforms, and see Scotland lead the way once again.”