SNP ministers’ “transformative” blueprint to prevent homelessness will only be effective if it is backed up with enough funding, campaigners have warned.

The plea comes after statistics published by the Scottish Government yesterday showed levels of homelessness have soared to record levels.

The statistics revealed 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 is the highest in more than a decade.

Read more: Homelessness soars as 10,000 children in temporary accommodation

The number of households assessed as homeless has soared by 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".

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

The Scottish Government’s forthcoming Housing Bill will include a duty on public bodies to work to prevent homelessness.

But charities have stressed that clarity is needed about the proposals, along with “adequate resourcing”.

Read more: Scandal of 60 deaths of homeless in Glasgow's 'last resort' hotels

Both Crisis and the Cyrenians have been involved in the Homelessness Prevention Task and Finish Group which has published a new report today.

The report has warned that the success of the new duty is “not guaranteed” and added there should be “long-term resourced plans and full logistical and financial support for public bodies”.

The document highlights that Scotland’s new homelessness prevention duties, “if implemented successfully, can transform the way we support people experiencing housing crisis, and in turn can transform lives”.

It states: “As we stand on the threshold of the introduction of the Housing Bill to the Scottish Parliament, it is important to be clear about the potentially transformative impact that the homelessness prevention duties could enable.”

The report sets out the “key elements” needed to maximise the success of new duties, with these including “cross-sector culture change and leadership”.

Read more: More than 14 homeless people die a month in Scotland 

In addition, it has called on Scottish ministers to “provide clarity as soon as possible regarding which public bodies the new duties will apply to”, saying this would allow organisations to engage with the legislation at the draft stage.

The report is also clear that “an agenda to prevent homelessness must have the housing stock to enable it to work”.

Crisis chief executive Matt Downie, said: “We encounter people whose homelessness could have been prevented every day, and we have done for decades.

“People who, with a bit of help earlier, could have avoided the trauma, injustice and indignity of homelessness altogether.

“The measures proposed by the Scottish Government to prevent homelessness could be transformative. But, to work properly, they need to be backed up with adequate resourcing and the support local authorities and public services so desperately need.”

He added: “These proposals could represent the beginning of the end of homelessness in Scotland.

"We know how to do it, we just need to push on and make sure those doing the work have the support they need.”

Cyrenians chief executive Ewan Aitken said: “We could change lives across the country if we commit ourselves now to preparing public bodies for these new prevention duties.

“Every day in Scotland people leave our hospitals, our prisons, our courts and our care system with nowhere to go.

“If we work together across third, business and public sectors and give our public sector staff the resources, the training and the legal clarity on what their responsibilities are, we could have a system that creates safe pathways and secures homes.”

The Scottish Government said it would respond to the report’s recommendations “in due course”.

But housing minister Paul McLennan stressed that it “supports our approach of working collectively to ensure no one need become homeless”.

He said: “We are clear the best way to end homelessness is to stop it from happening in the first place, and our long-term strategy for tackling homelessness is strongly supported.

The Herald: SNP Housing Minister Paul McLennanSNP Housing Minister Paul McLennan (Image: PA)

“Scotland already has the strongest rights for homeless households in the UK and we are taking steps to further strengthen our laws to support early intervention and prevention, building on some of the excellent work already undertaken."

Mr McLennan added: “Nowhere in the UK has escaped the pressures of the cost of living crisis but we continue to support local authorities to prevent homelessness with £30.5 million on top of funds through the local government settlement.

“Separately we are also providing a total of £100 million from our multi-year Ending Homelessness Together fund.

“We are also investing heavily to increase housing supply and the number of affordable homes completed in the latest year to end March 2023 is the highest annual figure in more than two decades.”