THERE was a scandal this week brought to the attention of the public.

The scandal of people being left in a spiral of addiction, mental illness, homelessness and left ultimately to die a premature death.

Often a lonely, painful death.

Another set of death figures and another reason for all of us as a society to hang our heads in shame.

In Glasgow an estimated 63 homeless people died in one year.

Of course, people who are homeless die, no-one is immortal, but the average age of death for those people was just 47, that’s 30 years earlier than the average life expectancy in Scotland.

And for most of their adult lives these people have been battling addiction.

Much of the blame is laid at the door of the city council for not housing people or getting them off the streets.

And while the council has, by its own admission, a long way to go to get homeless services right, it is too easy to simply point at the City Chambers and look no further.

The death total is the highest in the UK, not just by a little, but by a lot.

The death rate per million of the population in Scotland was 35.9. In England, which does not have its homelessness problems to seek, it was 16.8 and 14.5 in Wales.

At First Minister Questions yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon was asked about the figures.

She said: “On the comparisons, the figures also showed an increase in other parts of the UK, and there has been a bigger increase in England and Wales than in Scotland, but the levels in Scotland are not acceptable.”

That was an embarrassing answer, when the Scottish rate is more than double that of England.

The First Minister also said the figures were linked to the drug death crisis.

Ms Sturgeon added: “In terms of the work that we are already doing, the ending homelessness together fund is important, as is the work that we are doing on drugs deaths.”

Scotland has the highest rate of drug deaths in the developed world. There is no effective action being taken, that is the problem, that is why it is rising to a rate of almost one death a day in Glasgow.

A drugs deaths task force has been set up a homelessness and rough sleeping task force has been set up and reported.

Yet Glasgow City Council has told the Government it got nowhere near enough money from the resulting fund to achieve its targets for ending rough sleeping and homelessness.

Last week SNP MSPs in Scottish Parliament rejected a call to invest £15m in rehab beds for recovery.

The Scottish Government and UK Government continue to argue about a Drug Consumption Room.

It would be welcome, but like the Heroin Assisted Treatment centre already opened in Glasgow, would treat only a small number of people.

The purpose of the former is to treat those for who all other treatments have been exhausted and have failed.

But not enough has been invested in all other forms of treatment. People are put on methadone and not given enough of a chance to escape the misery of addiction.

That leads to people on the streets.

On the day the death figures were released the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter, run by the City Mission and Lodging House Mission, was full for the fourth night in a row. That is 40 spaces and even there were many more still on the streets. Another group, that helps homeless people, said they met with 21 people on Tuesday night, sleeping rough.

Most of the people at the night shelter, but not necessarily all, have an addiction problem, either alcohol or drugs and often both.

The drug death crisis and the homelessness rough sleeping crisis that is all to evident on the streets of Glasgow are inextricably linked.

They both require attention and they both require investment far in excess of what has been provided in recent years but in recent years the budget for drug and alcohol services has been cut.

Instead of £15m for drug rehab in the budget yesterday, Kate Forbes, Public Finance Minister revealed an extra £12.7m for drug and alcohol services, heralded as a 59% increase.

What Ms Forbes didn’t say was over the last five years the budget had been cut by almost £50m.

Since budgets were cut and rehab beds reduced the deaths have increased. This cannot have gone unnoticed at the level of government where decisions are made and cash allocated but the only reasonable conclusion that can be reached is it has been ignored.