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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK

UK Politics

Homeless review launched

The homeless are to be consulted in the review

A major review of the government's policy on homelessness is to be carried out in Scotland.

The plan was announced by the Scottish Communities Minister Wendy Alexander during a visit to a hostel in Edinburgh.

The review will examine the causes of homelessness and decide how the government can meet its target that no-one should have to sleep rough by the end of this parliament.

It is estimated that 1,000 people sleep rough on the streets of Scotland's cities every night.

[ image: Wendy Alexander: Visted hostel]
Wendy Alexander: Visted hostel
Beyond that, up to 40,000 people are waiting for homes.

Ms Alexander said the government had already commited £54m to the problem but more needed to be known about why people become homless and how the government can help them.

"Homelessness blights the lives of far too many people in Scotland," she said.

"The review group will take a comprehensive look at homelessness in Scotland. We need to understand the causes and nature of homelessness in both rural and urban Scotland.

"It will work with and talk to the real experts - homeless people themselves. Those who deal with homelessness issues on a daily basis will also help us get to the heart of the problem."

Shelter welcome

The taskforce is to be led by the Social Inclusion Minister Jackie Baillie.

It has been welcomed by the charity Shelter which wants to see an early start on legislation to ease the plight of the homeless.

The Scottish National Party attacked Labour's failure to include a Housing Bill in its legislative timetable.

Shadow Housing and Social Justice Minister Fiona Hyslop said: "The executive have failed to provide leadership on the housing agenda.

"Rough sleeping is an important aspect of homelessness - but where are Labour's proposals to tackle bed and breakfast provision, or overcrowded shared accommodation."

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