Homeless pregnant women and children could be further protected

By Laura Paterson, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on proposals to change unsuitable temporary accommodation orders.

Legislation to prevent homeless households with pregnant women or children being put up in temporary accommodation for more than a week could be extended.

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on proposals to change unsuitable temporary accommodation orders to cover all homeless people.

Members of the public are asked whether this should happen, if it should be rolled out in stages and if the definition of unsuitable accommodation should be relaxed for certain groups.

The most recent homelessness statistics, published in January, show on September 30 2018 there were 10,955 households in temporary homeless accommodation in Scotland, up 56 from the previous year.

The number of children involved had risen 4% to 6,826.

Official statistics indicate that between April and September 2018 there were 345 reported breaches of orders, up from 165 in the same period the previous year.

The consultation asks whether there should be additional sanctions, such as fines for local authorities who breach the order, and what additional support should be in place for councils.

The Scottish Government also proposes a two-stage process to introduce nationwide standards for temporary accommodation, initially advisory through guidance and then legally enforceable through legislative changes.

Speaking at the Housing First Scotland annual conference in Edinburgh, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “Temporary accommodation can offer an important emergency safety net for anyone who finds themselves homeless with nowhere else to go, such as those fleeing domestic violence.

“But it should be just that – temporary.

“We want to make sure that the time anyone spends in temporary accommodation is as short as possible before moving to a more appropriate, settled home.

“It is also essential that temporary accommodation is of good quality so those who experience homelessness have the best possible chance to find their feet again.”

The Scottish Government has set aside up to £23.5 million for the implementation of Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans to help homeless people move quickly into permanent accommodation.

The consultation closes on August 14.