Social landlords failing to deliver Gypsy/Traveller services, warns regulator

Christine Macleod
Christine Macleod

A major report by the Scottish Housing Regulator has found that social landlords need to give an equal standard of service to Gypsy/Travellers and housing tenants.

Published yesterday, the regulator’s report on Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland looks at social landlords’ management and maintenance of their official sites, and how landlords are applying the Scottish Government’s Scottish Social Housing Charter to service users including Gypsy/Travellers.

The regulator spoke directly to Gypsy/Travellers to hear about their experiences, as well as carrying out survey work with social landlords and analysing national performance information. It found that social landlords did not always apply relevant Charter standards, for instance about setting rents, to their Gypsy/Traveller residents and sites.

The regulator’s report makes recommendations for social landlords which are aimed at improving the quality and consistency of services provided to Gypsy/Traveller site residents across the country and also gives examples of positive practice.

Christine Macleod, director of governance and performance, said: “Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland are not always receiving the standard of service they should from their social landlord. Some landlords we looked at are listening to Gypsy/Travellers and considering their particular needs, but we are calling for all social landlords with official sites to act on our recommendations.

“The Scottish Government has recently published helpful guidance setting out new minimum standards for official sites. This has the potential to make a difference in improving services across Scotland.”

Margaret Burgess, minister for housing and welfare, said: “Over the last two years we have taken forward work to help improve Gypsy/Traveller sites in Scotland. Earlier this year we published minimum site standards, covering things such as safety, maintenance, and repairs. We have also set out core rights and responsibilities that all site tenants should have. Site providers have until 30 June 2018 to meet the site standards and core rights and responsibilities. By the end of this year they are also expected to assess their sites against the new standards, and have identified what work needs to be carried out.

“The government’s role is to set a robust framework and promote best practice, and I welcome the good practice examples this report has identified. No one in Scotland should have poor living conditions, and we expect site providers to address the issues this report has identified, and improve their sites to meet the new standards.”

Eileen McLean, chair of the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, added: “Scottish local authorities will be pleased to see the many examples of their positive practice in the delivery of services to Gypsy/Travellers acknowledged throughout the report. Having a clear framework of standards to set these services in the context of the Charter will support our continuing work to further improve services.”

The regulator’s recommendations include:

  • applying all relevant Charter standards and outcomes to residents of official Gypsy/Traveller sites;
  • ensuring that a structured rent setting policy is in place for Gypsy/Traveller site pitches which takes account of what potential site residents will be able to afford; and
  • understanding the particular needs of Gypsy/Travellers in order to deliver services which respond to those needs.
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