Housing funding is welcomed

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Local politicians have welcomed a funding boost to help tackle rural homelessness in Dumfries and Galloway, but warned that the level of funding is unlikely to scratch the surface of the problem.

The Rural Housing Partnership has been granted £180,000 to help address local housing, particularly in Dumfries and Galloway and the Highlands as part of a £2.1 million allocation from the Scottish government that is shared between 29 schemes.

Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said: “It is little short of a disgrace that as we move into 2014, there are still people who are without a warm bed and a place to stay, so any funding boost to tackle homelessness is welcome.

“However, at a time when the Scottish government has reduced spending for new housing in Dumfries and Galloway, I fear that this extra funding won’t scratch the surface of the problem we face across the region.”

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown also warned that the UK government’s welfare reforms are likely to see the number of homeless people in the area increase.

Mr Brown added: “There is a real concern that as a result of welfare reform, we are going to see a major increase in homelessness across Dumfries and Galloway during the forthcoming year.

“In a rural area such as ours, there are simply not enough smaller properties for people to move into who are affected by the bedroom tax. Fortunately, the council has stepped in to make up the shortfall for anyone affected by the bedroom tax by making discretionary housing payments, but that can only be for as long as funding continues.”