Scottish Government accepts recommendations on temporary accommodation standards

Housing minister Kevin Stewart visits Queens Cross Housing Association tenant Brony as the Scottish Government accepts recommendations to transform temporary accommodation for homeless people

Recommendations to transform temporary accommodation, including getting the right support in place from day one and giving more power to front-line workers, have been accepted by the Scottish Government.

The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group has made 21 recommendations on transforming temporary accommodation, 15 of which have been accepted in principle by the government.

A further six, relating to the devolution of funding from the UK government for temporary accommodation, will be analysed further in partnership with local authorities.

Other recommendations that have been accepted include promoting the widest possible range of options for securing a settled home, setting up personal housing plans for those at risk of homelessness and introducing legally enforceable quality and support standards for temporary accommodation.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “I welcome the third set of recommendations from the action group and I’m very grateful for the work the group has done to engage with people who have experienced homelessness, front line workers and colleagues working across the sector.

“These recommendations focus on preventing the need for temporary accommodation in the first place, ensuring the right support and standards are in place where it is needed and will play a vital role in meeting our commitment to end homelessness and transform temporary accommodation, backed by our £50 million fund.”

Jon Sparkes, chair of the group and chief executive of national homelessness charity Crisis, added: “Temporary accommodation should be a short-term response to each person’s homelessness before they quickly move into a permanent and secure place to call home. At the heart of our recommendations are measures to prevent homelessness in the first place, ensure support is available and wider options for more settled housing.

“There should also be legally enforceable standards and a time limit on housing that doesn’t meet basic needs. To implement these changes, the funding system should be fairer and we look forward to working with the Minister and his colleagues on taking plans forward.”

The action group has made two previous sets of recommendations on tackling rough sleeping over winter and ending rough sleeping for good. The group’s final set of recommendations will be on ending homelessness altogether.

Welcoming the temporary accommodation action, Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA community wellbeing spokesperson, said: “I would like to add my thanks once again to the action group for their continued focus on tackling rough sleeping and homelessness across Scotland. The focus in this latest set of recommendations on preventing the need for temporary accommodation and ensuring the right support is available quickly is something local government recognises as hugely important.

“We welcome the acknowledgement that the recommendations in relation to the devolution of temporary accommodation require further analysis in partnership with local authorities – the funding landscape is incredibly complex. It is essential we take time to understand the implications any changes could potentially have. I look forward to working, in partnership with the Minister and those across the sector, on these and other recommendations, over the coming months.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government has accepted many of the HARSAG recommendations on temporary accommodation, which is a vital part of our housing safety net.

“In particular, Shelter Scotland fully welcomes the commitment to introducing legally enforceable quality standards in temporary accommodation – something which we have been campaigning on for many years.

“We hope the Scottish Government will now implement these recommendations as soon as possible. This will ensure homeless people in temporary accommodation waiting for a permanent home have a more positive experience while trying to rebuild their lives and won’t have to suffer in terrible housing conditions living a life in limbo.”

He added: “These changes can’t happen too soon as families and individuals are spending increasing lengths of time in temporary accommodation due to the chronic shortage of affordable and emergency housing in Scotland. Children in particular are adversely affected by homelessness with their health and education tending to suffer more the longer they are in temporary accommodation.”

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