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Friday, 30 November 2018

Minister pledges to limit use of temporary accommodation for vulnerable people

Written by The Press Association

Scotland’s Housing Minister has pledged to bring forward legislation to restrict the use of unsuitable temporary accommodation for homeless people.

Kevin Stewart said the government would consult on the issue early in 2019.

He said: “We recognise that work needs to be done here. We will consult on all of this at a very early stage next year and bring forward legislation in due course to tackle this.”

Mr Stewart made the announcement during a debate on homelessness in the chamber at Holyrood, in response to a Conservative motion calling for seven-day limit, which he said the government would support.

The Minster said temporary accommodation services in Scotland, such as B&Bs and hostels, need to be more “personalised”.

Tory Graham Simpson said he was “delighted” to hear the Minister’s announcement and called for the legislation to be included in the next programme for government.

Mr Simpson highlighted the recent statement from MSPs representing all opposition parties which urged the Scottish Government to bring in a seven-day limit for unsuitable temporary homeless accommodation, ensuring people are transferred to more settled housing after a week.

He said research from housing and homelessness charity Crisis showed 60% of people in unsuitable temporary accommodation were subject to curfews, three-quarters were not allowed visits from family and friends, 81% found relationships suffered and 45% had no access to a kitchen so skipped meals.

“Curfews for goodness sake – these people are not criminals,” he said.

“These lives in limbo should not be tolerated.”

Mr Simpson pointed out the number of homelessness applications rose by around 400 (1%) in 2017/18 compared to the previous year, which is the first rise in nine years.

Questioned by the SNP’s Shona Robison if this could be explained by the impact of universal credit roll-out, Mr Simpson said the reasons behind homelessness were “complex”.

Labour’s Pauline McNeill said: “The scandal of temporary accommodation and the law being broken on a regular basis has to require urgent action by the Scottish Government.

“Crisis have recently drawn attention to the fact that it’s not just the number of people in temporary accommodation, but it’s the suitability of that accommodation that needs to be addressed.

“In the past year there were 400 placements involving a breach of the unsuitable accommodation order.”

This law prohibits pregnant women or families including an expectant mother or dependant children who have become homeless from being housed in a property which lets in water or wind or that is unsuitable for children.

Ms McNeill said “The scope of the order should be extended, in my opinion, so that no one will be placed in accommodation that is not wind or water tight and does not have cooking facilities.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Chris Young / PA Wire.