We’ve historically been very good at summits, discussions and talk in Scotland.

This week we will once again “get round the table” for the First Minister’s anti-poverty summit. The aim of eradicating poverty in Scotland is, of course, laudable, and vital. Where governments have often fallen short is action.

That’s not to say no good has been done. The Scottish Child Payment is putting money directly into the pockets of low-income households and should be celebrated. But in the face of rapidly inflating costs its potential to alleviate poverty is limited. It certainly won’t eliminate it.

The agenda for the summit has three themes: equality, opportunity, and community. The golden thread that ties them all together is housing. Any effort to improve those three areas is doomed to failure unless we can get a grip on our housing emergency and act to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

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The First Minister won’t succeed unless a home can be provided for every single one of the 9,130 kids in Scotland stuck in temporary accommodation. The rising tide of poverty in Scotland is inextricably linked to its housing emergency, yet far too many people are forced into homelessness, instead of getting the help they need.

The Herald:

A report by the Scottish Government’s task and finish group on temporary accommodation which ministers have repeatedly pledged to heed reflects the views and insight of people from across the housing sector as well as those who have suffered the real-life consequences of the housing emergency.

READ MORE: Bid to force purchase of empty properties for Scotland's homeless

The group laid out three key priorities for reducing the number of people trapped in temporary accommodation in Scotland, but following its recommendations will also be vital in the First Minister’s fight against poverty.

Delivering 38,500 social homes by 2026 was among the group’s top priorities. It urged the Scottish Government to implement a large-scale national acquisition policy to buy private sector properties to help ensure that target is met. Funding for social housing was slashed in the last budget, while the number of approvals for new social homes and construction projects getting underway has slowed to a crawl. The pace needs to pick up, and fast.

While the process is of delivering the necessary homes is underway, the report highlights the need to maximise the use of existing stock. Individuals and families are routinely placed in temporary accommodation which is blatantly unsuitable for their needs and in many cases proactively harms their health. It’s not uncommon for people to be stuck in “temporary” accommodation for years. We should therefore be looking to ensure that has many social housing vacancies as possible are given to currently homeless households to get them out of temporary accommodation as quickly as possible.

Finally, with homelessness continuing to grow, underfunded local service are on the brink of failure. They must urgently be provided with the funding they need to do their job. In an emergency the focus must be on immediately actionable steps.

Then, looking further ahead, it is vital we push on with plans to strengthen homelessness prevention in Scotland through the upcoming Housing Bill. We know that many of the people currently trapped in temporary accommodation, in many cases living in terrible conditions, could have seen their homelessness prevented if they had been able to access help earlier. We can’t just sit and watch as more people, currently struggling with high housing costs, high bills and high inflation are forced into homelessness.

So, while a re-commitment to eradicating poverty is welcome, there are some key actions that the Scottish Government needs to take if it is to have any hope of succeeding. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. We already know many of the answers. What we need now is for those in power to turn words into action.

Matt Downie MBE, Chief Executive, Crisis.

Alison Watson, Director, Shelter Scotland