"MORE needs to be done by the Welsh Government" to tackle the causes of rough sleeping, a Newport AM has said.

Newport East's John Griffiths made the comments while leading a debate on a report published in April by the Welsh Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, which he chairs, in the Assembly yesterday, Wednesday.

The Labour AM: "This is not about numbers, statistics or trends.

"It is about improving the lives of the hundreds of people who sleep rough in our communities.

"It is about the immeasurable human cost of rough sleeping. It is ensuring that people who find themselves living on the streets are given the support they deserve, the home that they need, and the chance to live, not merely to exist."

Conservative AM Janet Finch-Saunders also spoke during the debate, and called on the Welsh Government to follow the UK Government's example and set a target date for eliminating rough sleeping.

Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Sayed said key was to offer more support to landlords and social housing providers.

She said: "Evidence in the report show that many social landlords did not feel equipped to help rough sleepers or those with similar problems, which often arise as a result of being on the streets."

And Ukip's Gareth Bennett said many rough sleepers struggled with alcohol, drugs or mental health issues and doing more to tackle these problems may go some way to cutting homelessness. "These are complex issues that we're dealing with, and it's sometimes difficult to find viable solutions to such complex problems," he said.

Responding to the debate, housing minister Rebecca Evans said she agreed key to dealing with the problem was to offer rough sleepers support with the underlying issues such as alcoholism or drug dependence.

The most recent figures show there are an estimated 345 people sleeping rough in Wales, including 22 in Newport and 19 in Caerphilly.