The SNP’s housing minister has labelled a huge rise in the number of homelessness cases “deeply worrying” amid demands for Scotland’s two governments to avert a “growing catastrophe”.

Statistics released by the Scottish Government show that there are now 29,692 households in the homelessness system – the highest level since records began.

The level of homelessness in Scotland now exceeds pre-pandemic figures and the highest they have been in more than a decade.

The number of households assessed as homeless has soared by almost 10% from the previous year and is 2% higher than before the pandemic hit.

Glasgow remains the local authority with the largest number of homeless households but has experienced a 7% decrease compared to last year, due to "increased homelessness prevention work" by the city council.

Edinburgh had the largest numerical increase with a 28% increase in homeless households in the last year.

Scottish Government analysis said the increase "follows a particularly low number of homeless households in Edinburgh over 2021-22 and 2020-21".

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The Scottish Government has claimed the increase in homelessness applications is down to the “current cost of living crisis and the continuing fallout from the pandemic”.

Statistics show that the number of households living in temporary accommodation is also at an all-time high, with 15,039 placed there during 2022-23, including 9,595 children.

There were 2,438 applications where at least one member of the household had slept rough in the previous three months – a 14% increase from 2021-22.

The average wait time in temporary accommodation has also increased year-on-year, and now sits at 502 days for households with children.

SNP Housing Minister Paul McLennan, said: “Today’s 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 fallout from the pandemic on homelessness.

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“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.”

Mr McLennan said he was “very disappointed” by the number of people in temporary accommodation.

He added: “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.

“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.”

Mr McLennan pointed to funding for councils and social landlords to “rapidly acquire properties for use as social homes” and working with regulators and organisations “to consider what we need to do differently to reduce the use of temporary accommodation”.

Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Homelessness ruins people’s lives. But, as these figures show, more people are now sleeping on the streets and more children are growing up in homelessness.

“The number of people being made homeless is at its highest since 2012. This was already an emergency, but we are now at risk of a growing catastrophe.”

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He added: “This is a critical moment for Scotland. We can push on and take the first steps towards the end of homelessness, or we can watch as progress slips, with thousands of people forced to suffer the consequences.

“The Scottish Government must push on with plans to prevent homelessness, so people can get help earlier and so public services help stop people being forced from their homes. The UK Government must urgently invest in housing benefit, to avert more people being pushed into homelessness.

“We know what has caused this rise and we know the damage homelessness does. But by working together, and with all levels of government making the right choices, we can end it. We can’t afford to wait.”

Scottish Conservative shadow social justice, housing and local government secretary, Miles Briggs, said the statistics “should be a source of shame” for the Scottish Government.

He added: “They are presiding over an ever-increasing homelessness crisis in Scotland, but are failing to take any meaningful action to tackle it.

“It is disgraceful that the number of children living in temporary accommodation has reached a record high.

“Nobody – but particularly our young people – should be spending an increasing amount of time without a permanent place to call home.

“These sobering figures are a reminder as to why the SNP-Green government cannot continue to pass the buck on this crisis. The time for long words has long since passed. Ministers must act now and stop the level of homelessness from spiralling out of control.”

Scottish Labour Housing spokesperson, Mark Griffin, said: “This shocking situation is a damning indictment of two failed governments – the SNP and the Tories – who have presided over this crisis with chronic inaction.

“Both parties have been too wrapped up in spin and soap opera drama to find any real solutions to getting people housed, which has only gotten worse year upon year.

“Tory economic chaos and SNP inaction means Scotland’s homelessness crisis has spiralled out of control – and it is our most vulnerable who are paying the price.”

He added: “The SNP and the Tories should hang their heads in shame at the scale of this crisis.

“Action needs to be taken now to tackle this crisis, build the homes people need and deliver the long-term support to people facing homelessness.”