WEST Dunbartonshire has the worst levels of homelessness in Scotland, according to a new report.

Council bosses say despite the numbers of residents presenting as homeless dropping by nearly a half in the past decade, they need £4.6million from the Scottish Government over the next five years to tackle the issue.

Opposition councillors have condemned the latest “damning” figures as proof of the harm caused by SNP and Tory austerity from Edinburgh and London.

Wednesday’s housing and communities committee will be asked to approve West Dunbartonshire Council’s (WDC) “rapid re-housing transition plan” (RRTP) for the next five years, dubbed “Home at the Heart”.

RRTPs had to be submitted to the Scottish Government by the end of 2018 and WDC said they need £4.633,833.

Between 2008/09 and 2015/16, homeless applications have been nearly cut in half.

But the proportion per 1,000 people in West Dunbartonshire puts the area’s homeless rate at the highest in Scotland.

The report states the area is the second worst for youth homelessness.

Nearly 80 per cent of those who present as homeless legally have to be rehoused by the council. In a quarter of all cases the resident is asked to leave and more than a third are caused by relationship breakdown. West Dunbartonshire has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the country and 17.7 per cent of applications are because of violent or abusive homes.

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Council bosses said they have made “good progress” in recent years in tackling homelessness, with rough sleeping “not widespread”.

And they acknowledge the high levels of youth homelessness and a high number of homes losing contact with their homelessness service.

Community Party councillor Jim Bollan said: “This is a damning report with national figures showing the SNP run council has created the highest level of homelessness in Scotland.

“The fact that youth homelessness is the second highest in Scotland is another deplorable failure by the SNP council to assist some of the most vulnerable in our communities. What a scandalous situation to start 2019 with.”

Cllr Bollan claimed staff cuts across homeless services in West Dunbartonshire and a lack of resources has caused the levels of homelessness.

He added: “The front-line staff we have in the homeless section are second to none, but they can’t do the job they need to do with fewer staff and less resources.

“The cuts in service were covered up by implementing a ‘re-organisation’ in the department which is a tried and tested way of masking cuts in public services.”

The council’s plan is to prevent homelessness and help residents access settled housing quickly.

They want to reduce the need for emergency, temporary accommodation and offer more support to ensure people don’t lose their home and need to apply as homeless.

Almost half of all residents have medium to complex support needs requiring council focus.

The Scottish Government have already sent £63,000 to the council to help develop their RRTP.

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Labour Councillor David McBride said the figures were cause for grave concern.

He said: “Homelessness and family breakdown is not unrelated to the level of deprivation we suffer from and we require a fair level of resources from the Scottish Government to assist our community.  

“What we have seen is severe cuts year in, year out to funding to WDC by the SNP government in Holyrood.  

“Local government requests fair funding and those authorities like WDC who suffer the highest deprivation should receive an additional increase that reflects our circumstances. 

“It’s time for the SNP to acknowledge and resource accordingly.”

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “The council has shown a strong commitment to addressing homelessness and as a result, we have seen significant reduction in homeless numbers over the past eight years.

“We continue to work hard to make improvements in this area and the development of our new Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, which will ensure homeless people are moved to permanent and settled accommodation as quickly as possible, will help us make further progress.

“Our dedicated homelessness staff are committed to supporting residents and aim to achieve positive outcomes for all our citizens.”