CITY bosses across Scotland have ramped up support to help protect homeless people and rough sleepers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Local authorities have drawn up plans to safeguard the vulnerable people after funding was made available by the Scottish Government.

A partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government has helped charity, Streetwork, provide hotel accommodation for 44 rough sleepers - but up to 200 people sleep on the streets of the capital in any one night.

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The council says that services for rough sleepers is being prioritised during the pandemic.

Council chiefs in Edinburgh have set up a dedicated team to co-ordinate support for homeless people in a bid to allow them to self-isolate during the lockdown brought on by the pandemic.

As well as some rough sleepers being put into hotel accommodation last night, the council is exploring using vacant student halls and self-contained flats to shelter homeless people.

Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey said: "We are committed to doing all that we can during this crisis and we stand ready to support everyone who is or becomes homeless, in any way possible.

“We’ve put a plan in place that will help us ensure the safety of people experiencing homeless in the city, thanks to the incredible efforts of our housing officers and third sector partners who have been working nonstop to explore options for how we continue to care for those who need it most.”

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He added: “We'll be exploring all options to make sure our most vulnerable families and residents can still get the help they need while following the Scottish Government’s clear instructions.

"This is clearly a very challenging time for our teams and our city so I’m pleased we’ve had a very positive response from the private sector to our appeal for extra accommodation.

"I'm grateful too for the incredible sacrifice and dedication of Edinburgh's key workers who continue to do their jobs, day and night, to keep our essential homelessness and health services running and our people protected, as far as they can."

Glasgow City Council secured additional funding from the Scottish Government for the housing, while Aberdeen City Council launched a free crisis support line to prioritise support to the most at-risk people.

Mhairi Hunter, Glasgow's city convener for health and social care, said: "Over the past fortnight, Glasgow's Health and Social Care Partnership have been focused on securing additional emergency accommodation for those who require it.

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"This has included several hotels in the city and ensures that all of those whom we have a responsibility to assist, can self-isolate where necessary in accordance with the official Covid-19 guidance.

"Additional funding was provided by the Scottish Government to offer accommodation to rough sleepers, whom our street team liaise with daily."

Aberdeen City Council is continuing to provide support for homeless people but trying to reduce face-to-face contact as much as possible to try and suppress the spread of the disease. This is in line with Scottish Government guidance, which is being followed by charities who support rough sleepers such as Shelter Scotland .

Official figures from June show 29,894 households were assessed as being homeless north of the border in 2018-19.

Meanwhile, Scotland's largest housing, care and property-management firm Wheatley Group is to make empty homes available to local authorities as temporary accommodation for the homeless.

The Scottish Government has previously announced a £50 million well-being fund to help those who work with people who may be worst affected by the crisis, including rough sleepers.