Announcing an additional£14 million for phase two of the Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI), which takes total investment since May 1997 to£30 million, Mr MacDonald said:
'We are determined to end the scourge of rough sleeping by 2002. The first phase of the RSI has made an excellent start with 67 projects being assisted over 19 local authority areas, but we need a long-term commitment and today I am announcing a major new fund of£14 million to take phase two of the RSI right up to 2002.
'Money alone is not enough. We need a co-ordinated strategy to tackle rough sleeping and the first phase has been invaluable in establishing the depth and seriousness of the problem and providing urgent help where it is most needed.
'I am also announcing today the distribution of the£2 million remaining from the first phase of the RSI. Together with the new funding commitment for phase two, this will bring total spending on RSI to£30m. I want to emphasise that our commitment is long-term. No one should have to sleep rough in Scotland in the 21st Century and the government is determined to meet its target by 2002.
'I am well aware that making money available is only half the battle. Resources must be spent wisely and this has been done under the Rough Sleepers Initiative. The Cowgate Centre in Edinburgh, which I visited in August, has been able to expand evening, weekend and night services and will become a major source of referrals to the Bethany Reception Centre when it opens.
'In Glasgow, Rough Sleepers Initiative funding for the Wayside Centre has provided more services for rough sleepers, particularly women and couples, by employing more staff and altering its facilities. Achievements such as these prove that investment in the Rough sleepers Initiative is working and the additional money being made available today will ensure there is no let up in the fight against homelessness.'
Liz Nicholson, Director of Shelter Scotland said:
'Rough sleeping is one of the most visible forms of social exclusion in Scotland. With back-up from the significant resources announced today and with the determination of the agencies working directly with rough sleepers, we have a real opportunity to reduce the number of people who end up on the streets.'
1.£16 million was dedicated to the Rough Sleepers Initiative over three years (1997 - 2000), with 11 million allocated to local authorities in October 1997 and a further£3 million in August 1998.
2. The provision of a further£14 million over two years (2000 - 2002) takes Government investment in the RSI to£30 million.
3. Allocations are made on the recommendation of the Rough Sleepers Initiative Advisory Group which includes representatives of local authorities, Scottish Homes, Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Council for Single Homelessness and the Glasgow Simon Community.
4. The£2 million remaining from phase one has been allocated as follows:
Argyll & Bute -£8,000
North & South Ayrshire-£210,350
North Lanarkshire -£450,000
Perth & Kinross -£69,613
South Lanarkshire -£81,800
5. Full details of how the£16 million has been spent by local authorities are available from Julie Grant on 0131 244 2701.