Scottish executive pledges to house every homeless person in 10 years

Every homeless person in Scotland will be
entitled to a house by the year 2012, according to the latest plans
by the Scottish executive.

Launching the final report of the homelessness
task force, made up of housing campaign groups, local authorities
and housing agencies, social justice minister Iain Gray said the
executive fully endorsed all the report’s recommendations,
including changes to the current legislation and an end to the use
of bed and breakfast accommodation for families.

The Scottish executive is to allocate an
additional £11m over the next two years to help meet the
report’s aims.

Gray said: “Homelessness in all its forms is
an affront to social justice. The Scottish executive believes
everyone in Scotland should have a decent, secure home and this
report gives us a blueprint for preventing and tackling
homelessness over the next 10 years.”

The report’s 59 recommendations will ensure
that all homeless people are entitled to permanent accommodation by
2012 (unless this right is suspended for a specific reason) and
that homeless people can apply to any local authority in Scotland.
All local authorities will be obliged to provide access to a rent
deposit or guarantee scheme by 2004, and a national furnished
tenancy network will be established with the aim of creating 5,000
additional furnished tenancies.

The recommendations also focus on the need to
revise the benefits system to ensure the needs of homeless people
are met. Use of bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless
families will cease and every local authority will establish
emergency crisis teams providing emergency accommodation. The
health care needs of homeless people will also be given greater

Director of the Scottish Council for Single
Homeless and task force member Robert Aldridge said: “The report is
as much about changing attitudes and practices as it is about
changing the law. But it also recognises that to tackle
homelessness effectively we need an improved supply of affordable,
good quality housing in places where people want to live. It will
need resources and we welcome the fact that the Scottish executive
has recognised this.”

Housing spokesperson for the Convention of
Scottish Local Authorities, Alistair Gray, welcomed the promise of
extra money and said Cosla would work with their partners “to
ensure there is an adequate supply and choice of quality affordable
housing and appropriate support for homeless applicants to help
them stay in their new homes”.

A multi-agency monitoring group is to be set
up to ensure the progress of the plans.  

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