Temporary accommodation improvements ‘may not go far enough’

Government plans to improve standards of temporary accommodation across Scotland are a step in the right direction but may not go far enough to help those most in need, according to a senior homelessness case worker.

Temporary accommodation improvements ‘may not go far enough’

Publishing its analysis of responses to a national consultation last week, the Scottish Government said there was wide support for the creation of an acceptable standard of temporary accommodation and an extension of the seven-day limit to all homeless people.

Wendy Malloy, a senior caseworker with Govan Law Centre, gave the plans a cautious welcome.

“We have been involved in any consultations, we are welcome to any change that improves services and provision for anybody in Glasgow and the wider area but I suppose we have to be quite cautious about this,” she told The Herald.

Ms Malloy added: “The devil is in the detail and we don’t know yet what these temporary accommodation standards are going to be.

“We have regularly clients who are complaining about the standards of accommodation and the length of time they have been there. We certainly know these standards are required, and are a necessity for homeless people but we don’t know what that standard is going to be.”

Malloy explained that while having some sort of basic standard for homeless accommodation is positive, holding people accountable for maintaining that standard may be more difficult.

She said: “Often people do not know there are standards, so how does this get communicated? They need to know how to go about reporting [any problems], and without fear of that having an impact on their application which a lot of people do. People are fearful.

“There are standards in other types of accommodation, such as private housing. Local authorities will not have to reinvent anything here, they are already there for other tenures. It should, of course, be extended to temporary accommodation. Homeless people should not be treated in any lesser way because they are homeless. We would like to see mirroring of the standards out there for other tenures, to be applied to homeless accommodation.”

Welcoming the publication of responses, housing minister Kevin Stewart said last week: “While temporary accommodation can offer an important emergency safety net for anyone who finds themselves homeless with nowhere else to go, it should be a purely temporary measure.

“These consultation responses support Scottish Government proposals to prevent anyone from living in unsuitable temporary accommodation for longer than seven days. From May 2021, this new legislation, a UK first, will ensure people are moved into a more appropriate, permanent home as soon as possible.

“The consultation also demonstrated strong support for a set of legally enforceable standards, which people with experience of homelessness told us would help improve safety and standards by raising problems or issues temporary accommodation.

“This year we will build on the advisory standards we have already introduced and use these consultation responses as we work with partners to develop a legally enforceable standards framework.

“We will continue to support local authorities to deliver our progressive legislation as part of our £50 million plan to eradicate homelessness in Scotland.”

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