AN audit of rough sleeping is needed to understand the full extent of the homelessness problem, according to a Glasgow MSP.

Pauline McNeill, Glasgow Labour MSP, said there has been an increase in recent years but no-one knows exactly how many people are having to sleep rough, with no audit being carried out for almost 15 years.

She called for the Scottish Government to adopt the housing first model which has been trialled in Glasgow and challenged Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s questions to lead from the front on tackling homelessness.

Ms McNeill said: “Shelter Scotland has confirmed that the number of homelessness applications in which the applicant had slept rough the night before making the application increased by 10 per cent last year.

“In view of that increase, does the First Minister agree that it would be helpful to have a fresh assessment of the scale of the issue, through the action group? According to Homeless Action Scotland, there has not been an audit since 2003.”

The First Minister said the Scottish Government was taking action and had set up the Rough Sleeping Action Group and was investing £50m in a fund to end homelessness.

She said the government would be taking recommendations form the task force and that could include an audit of rough sleeping, if so it would be carried out.

Ms Sturgeon said: “One of the things that I see as being among the most important is that we do not see the matter as just an accommodation issue, whether the accommodation is houses or hostels.

“The way to tackle rough sleeping is to provide the package of support that is needed around people, so the housing first model that Pauline McNeill mentioned is important.

“I have already said that it offers opportunities for individuals with more complex needs in helping to stabilise their lives and to prevent repeat homelessness.”

Glasgow charity turning Point has trialled the Housing First model used extensively in the USA and also in Finland with successful results.

The idea is instead of having to prove themselves ready to cope with a tenancy, homeless people with multiple complex needs like addiction and mental health issues are provided with a home and at the same time support for the undelying causes is also put in place.

The charity has said since 2011 more than 40 people have been through the housing First process and it has had no evictions so far.

There are 13 registered social landlords in the city providing Housing First tenancies and Turning Point provide the support.

The chairty said it would like to see it extended to hundereds of tenancies