SCOTTISH ministers have been called on to take urgent action over a soaring number of homeless applications for children on Christmas Day.

The figure has risen by over 20%, prompting Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson housing Caron Lindsay to say: “It’s disgraceful that people in a country as well off as ours are plagued by this problem."

More than 14,000 children were made homeless last year in Scotland, a rate of nearly 40 a day, a number that has risen for four years in a row.

Experts say a large part of the problem is caused by a lack of temporary accommodation and social housing.

Figures released by the Government to the LibDems show the scale of the homelessness crisis in relation to children.

The statistics break down the number of live homeless applications as of December 25 for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

An additional table covers the total number of adults and children associated with these applications.

In 2015, the figure for children stood at 10,508, but it rose to 11,358 in the following year, and increased again to 12,858 in 2017.

Similarly, the number for adults jumped from 24,906 in 2015 to 26,746 last year – a rise of around 7%.

Lindsay said: “At this time of year, we treasure having a warm home. These statistics show thousands upon thousands are not so lucky. I am furious that every year we have more children in this situation. The Government should be ashamed of itself. When are they going to sort this out by building more homes for social rent?

“Life on the streets, sofa surfing or in uncertain temporary accommodation can take a huge toll on people’s mental and physical health. It causes real disruption to children’s development too.

“The SNP must urgently grasp the opportunity to build more social housing and ensure councils have resources to fix poor housing.”

Alison Watson, Deputy Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“These figures back up our serious concerns about the number of homeless children in Scotland – particularly at Christmas.

“They show a worsening problem caused by a serious shortage of temporary accommodation and social housing across Scotland.

“Children being homeless in 21st-century Scotland is a disgrace in itself, and with so many being homeless at Christmas, drives home just how wrong it is.

“It’s time that promises were made and kept to the children of Scotland – that we will build enough affordable homes to make sure every child has a home not just for Christmas, but permanently.”

Kevin Stewart, the SNP Government Housing Minister, said: “One person being made homeless is too many, particularly in households which include children. In Scotland families have a legal right to temporary accommodation and those with children and pregnant women should only be in B&B, or similar accommodation, for a maximum of seven days.

“Ending homelessness is a priority for this government, backed by a £50 million fund and an action plan to deliver the recommendations from our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group. Our £3 billion investment in affordable housing means we continue to provide much needed home, with 80,000 delivered since 2007.”