Homeless families in Edinburgh have had to travel to England for temporary accommodation as there was none available nearby, with the council paying for taxi journeys costing almost £500 in one case.
There were two cases last year where households had to go south of the border for temporary accommodation, both of which are understood to have occurred during the busy August festival period.
A freedom of information request reported on by the Scotland on Sunday newspaper revealed almost £3,000 was spent by Edinburgh City Council on temporary accommodation in England.
Charities say the homelessness system is under severe pressure and on Thursday a number of council officials warned MSPs it is becoming “almost impossible” to find accommodation for homeless refugees.
In one of the Edinburgh cases, a family of six drove themselves around 300 miles to Coventry for temporary accommodation.
In the other case, a two-person household was sent to Durham for temporary accommodation.
Taxi fares to take them there and bring them back once a place opened up in Edinburgh cost £486.
Matt Downie, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said: “These cases are symptomatic of a homelessness system under extraordinary pressure.
“As the cost-of-living crisis continues, we are seeing more people who were previously comfortable beginning to struggle, and more people who were just about getting by being pushed into homelessness.”
He called for more action in the government’s upcoming Housing Bill to tackle homelessness.
Edinburgh council’s homelessness convener Jane Meagher said: “The demand for temporary accommodation in Edinburgh far outstrips supply, which means that sometimes we are unable to access any in the city.
“The stark choices facing us is that we either look for suitable accommodation outside Edinburgh or people will have to sleep on the streets, which no one wants.”
SNP housing minister Paul McLennan said: “We recognise these are exceptionally challenging times and we are working with local authorities to ensure no one is turned away when they need help.
“Despite cuts to our budget from the UK Government, we are providing councils with £30.5 million annually for their work to prevent homelessness and £100m from our multi-year Ending Homelessness Together fund, in addition to funding through the local government settlement.”