Crisis calls for protection for single homeless people from ‘unsuitable’ B&Bs

Edinburgh Homeless Young PersonThe national charity for homeless people Crisis expects to welcome more than 300 guests to a centre in Edinburgh on December 25 and 26 where up to 400 volunteers will help provide food, warmth, comfort and festive cheer at Crisis at Christmas.

But according to the charity many of these guests will have come from ‘unsuitable’ temporary accommodation in bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) where they may have lived for more than a year, often isolated from family and without access to cooking and laundry facilities.

The charity is now calling for a change in Scottish legislation so that single homeless people can receive the same treatment as families, who under current law are prohibited from staying in bed and breakfasts for more than 14 days.

According to government figures 1,052 single homeless households in Scotland were temporarily housed in B&Bs in March 2016, or around 14 per cent of single homeless households. The use of B&Bs varies widely between local authorities and in fact, 15 local authorities do not use them at all. However, 76 per cent of single homeless people living in temporary accommodation can be found in three local authorities: Edinburgh, Highland and Glasgow.

Five local authorities house 1 in 5 or more of their single homeless population in B&B:

  • Highland 67 per cent (295 households)
  • Edinburgh 49 per cent (354 households)
  • Aberdeenshire 24 per cent
  • East Dunbartonshire 21 per cent
  • East Lothian 21 per cent
  • Ann Landels, director of Crisis Skylight Edinburgh, said: “We are still seeing far too many people living in B&Bs, isolated from families and loved ones and without even basic amenities such as a fridge or cooker. This is never felt as acutely as it is at Christmas time.

    “These options are unsuitable and are also an expensive option for government. Local authorities need to make sure standards in bed and breakfasts are suitable, particularly when people are staying there for long periods of time.

    “We are urging councils to develop plans to end the use of bed and breakfast in the long term, except in emergencies.”

    Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, added: “Christmas can be an extremely isolating time for those without a home to call their own. That is why we are urging the government to treat single homeless people in the same way they treat families, ensuring they are moved swiftly on from B&Bs which often without basic facilities and do not allow visitors.

    “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers that help make Crisis at Christmas happen for homeless people, such as those living in B&Bs. Volunteers can not only bring some much-needed cheer to our guests but also encourage them to take up the life-changing opportunities on offer all year round at our centres across the country.”

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