Chaos fears as new rules hit Scotland

    A top housing officer has warned that Scottish councils will be
    severely stretched by new regulations on homelessness pushed
    through last week.

    Under the Homelessness (Scotland) Act 2003, councils will be
    prevented from housing families with children or pregnant women in
    bed and breakfast for more than 14 days. But Mark Turley, director
    of housing at Edinburgh Council, said the immediate introduction of
    the rule would lead to the neglect of other vulnerable client
    groups.

    A motion to defer its introduction was rejected by the Scottish
    executive’s communities committee.

    Turley is so disappointed that he and two other officers have
    stepped down from the executive’s homeless monitoring group. They
    and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities thought the plans
    should have been postponed until April, giving councils longer to
    prepare.

    “Councils are not ready as there hasn’t been adequate
    preparation,” Turley said. “Instead of taking a strategic and
    planned approach to implementing this, councils will be forced to
    chase around ensuring they comply with it. We will be spending a
    disproportionate amount of time implementing this policy.”

    He said the decision threatened the understanding between
    councils and the executive over Scotland’s long-term approach to
    homelessness.

    Cosla president Pat Waters said the legislation would not reduce
    the overall number of people living in B&Bs and divert
    attention away from “real homeless needs”.

    The legislation places new definitions on the type of
    accommodation homeless families should be offered. B&Bs would
    be used in “emergency or exceptional circumstances” only.

    Homelessness charity Shelter Scotland welcomed the change,
    adding that half of all Scottish local authorities had already
    stopped using B&Bs.

     

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