by Tony Inglis

More than 1,000 people in West Dunbartonshire struggled with homelessness last year, according to a new report.

The data also revealed that 55 children were left without a place to stay even as the number of applications in 2016/17 are going down in the local authority, in the figures published by the Scottish Government.

The report also showed a drop of 90 per cent in the amount of applicants sleeping rough prior to seeking help.

West Dunbartonshire had a decrease of eight per cent on the number of homeless applications made the previous year, even while the country as a whole saw an increase of one per cent - the first rise in nearly a decade.

The total figure in West Dunbartonshire of 1,048 applying to legally be deemed homeless has more than halved in the last 10 years.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, said despite the efforts of the council and others to reduce rough sleeping and deliver more affordable homes, there was still too many homeless.

He added: “The Scottish Government is committed to delivering more than 50,000 new affordable quality homes by 2021.

“The SNP has also set up an action group to lead the way in eradicating homelessness through initiatives such as ‘Housing First’ – which aims to provide permanent homes quicker for those in need alongside better support.”

Gil Paterson, Clydebank’s MSP, said: “This is the legacy of selling so many council houses off while at the same time not building any.

“Fortunately, the SNP stopped the right to buy and have built thousands of council houses.

“Everyone deserves a safe and warm place to call home which is why the Scottish Government is committed to ending homelessness and rough sleeping for good, and why transforming temporary accommodation will remain a key priority for the Scottish Government.

“The SNP government is providing £28 million for new homes across West Dunbartonshire and a total of £1.75 billion across Scotland.”

The report also found 255 households in temporary housing as of the end of March this year; 215 of them were placed in social sector accommodation, and the remaining 40 were sent to hostels.

Thirty of the households had pregnant women and children.

A spokeswoman from West Dunbartonshire Council said: “While we are pleased to see a reduction in our homelessness figures, our staff are still working very hard to ensure we provide good quality temporary accommodation, advice and support to prevent homeless in West Dunbartonshire.”

Mr Docherty-Hughes added: “Whilst the causes of homelessness can be complex, it’s important that people know that support is available. I would urge anyone in West Dunbartonshire worried about homelessness to get in touch with the council’s homelessness service by calling 01389 737 000.”