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Scottish Government to limit B&B stays for homeless

A seven-day limit on the use of temporary accommodation for anyone facing homelessness is to be introduced in Scotland.

The limit is already in place for families with children and pregnant women will now be extended to protect everyone at risk of homelessness from May 2021 onwards.

The Scottish Government launched a consultation in May, which looked at extending the week-long limit.

An initial analysis of the consultation responses revealed there was overwhelming support for the extension, with 97% of respondents agreeing that the order should be extended, including 80% of organisations, including local authorities.

Full independent analysis of the consultation responses will be published in autumn.

Announcing the changes, Scottish housing minister, Kevin Stewart said: ‘We know that people living in these unsuitable environments can for too long often lack cooking or washing facilities, and some have reported that they cannot have visits from family or friends. These experiences have a detrimental effect on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, preventing them from rebuilding their lives.

‘While temporary accommodation can offer an important emergency safety net for anyone who finds themselves homeless, such as those fleeing domestic violence, it should be a purely temporary measure.

‘In Scotland we are already world-leading in tackling homelessness, and now this new legislation, which is a UK first, will make sure that the time anyone spends in unsuitable temporary accommodation is as short as possible before moving to a more appropriate, permanent home,’ added Mr Stewart.

‘We recognise the importance of a settled home in supporting people to live their life with good health, wellbeing and a sense of community and belonging.

‘That’s why we’re investing £32.5 million, which includes more than half of our £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund, to support local authorities to prioritise settled accommodation for all.’

The chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, Jon Sparkes added: ‘We strongly welcome the announcement that the Scottish Government will change the law so that people will no longer have to live in the most unsuitable forms of temporary accommodation for longer than seven days. This marks a major achievement for our Life in Limbo campaign, a three-year project which has sought to put an end to lengthy and dehumanising stays in unsupported hostels, hotels and B&Bs.

‘This decision is a recognition of the resolve of our clients to shine a light on the inhumane conditions they were experiencing and the determination to ensure no one else was subjected to these prolonged stays.

‘Making sure that everyone has a home where they can begin to rebuild their lives benefits all of us. Once again Scotland has shown it is a world leader in tackling homelessness and this commitment is a major step forward towards it being the first nation in Great Britain to end homelessness for good.’

Photo Credit – Leroy_Skalstad (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart

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