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Unsuitable Accommodation Order to cover all homeless applicants

9 September 2019

Legislation to reduce the time people facing homelessness can spend in unsuitable temporary accommodation is set to be made in the coming months.

The seven day limit on providing for people to stay in places such as hostels or bed and breakfasts, which currently covers families with children and pregnant women, will now be extended to protect everyone at risk of homelessness.

Local authorities will have until May 2021 to make the necessary changes to ensure compliance with the new law, which will introduced by regulations under the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003 in the parliamentary year just begun.

It follows the work of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group and a Scottish Government consultation between May and August this year on improving the standards of temporary accommodation. The latter included consideration of when and how the Unsuitable Accommodation Order should be extended, and produced 97% support for the extension, with 80% from organisations including local authorities. Full independent analysis of the consultation responses will be published in autumn.

Announcing the changes, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart commented: “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.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, added: “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.”

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