News In Focus
Homeless rights enhanced as law changes
New rights for Scotland's homeless are now in force as a 10-year-old Government commitment comes to completion.
In 2002 the then Labour-Liberal Democrat Scottish Executive promised that by 2012, anyone unintentionally homeless would be offered settled accommodation. The current Scottish Parliament confirmed the change last month by passing the Homelessness (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012, which removes the hurdle of having to show special need, such as dependent children, to be entitled to accommodation.
It is thought that around 3,000 people each year will benefit from the extended rights.
However, although the legal change is meant to prevent the extended use of accommodation such as hostels or bed and breakfast, Housing Minister Margaret Burgess has conceded that in the short term more people may have to be housed in this way, as councils adjust to their new responsibilities.
"There may be more people in the short term in temporary accommodation until they get permanent accommodation, but they will get permanent accommodation. That's key to this", she said.
John Downie of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said it was important that all necessary steps were taken to ensure that people assessed as unintentionally homeless did receive settled accommodation in terms of the new commitment, rather than having more people in hostels and bedsits.