Unsuitable Accommodation Order extended
A Programme for Government commitment to ensure everyone experiencing homelessness has access to suitable quality accommodation has been brought forward in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The Unsuitable Accommodation Order, which currently prohibits local councils from placing pregnant women or families with children into bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) or hotels for more than seven days, will now be extended to all homeless households.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:
“There has been a remarkable cross-sector response during the COVID-19 crisis, with emergency accommodation and support quickly given to those that need it most.
“Extending the Unsuitable Accommodation Order, a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) recommendation, will provide people with quality accommodation to support their move on from homelessness.
“It is vital we protect the progress made, and ensure there is no backwards movement in local and national efforts to tackle homelessness in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“We will work with local authorities to overcome any barriers they face as we move to a new way of dealing with homelessness. We know hotel and B&B accommodation is being used during the current public health emergency to ensure there is physical distancing and ability to self-isolate – vital to suppressing the spread of the virus – so the initial legislation will be time limited to ensure no local authority is in breach of the Order whilst they are protecting people during the pandemic.”
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive at Crisis, and chair of HARSAG said:
“By fast-tracking this legislation, the Scottish Government is sending out a clear message that everyone should have somewhere safe and settled to call home.
“This new and progressive measure ensures that no one will stay in unsuitable temporary accommodation without access to basic facilities and support for months on end. By taking this step, the Scottish Government is clearly signalling that we should not go backwards after this lockdown ends. We have a real opportunity to eradicate homelessness across Scotland once and for all – we must now all play our part and support local authorities to make this happen.”
More information on what constitutes unsuitable accommodation is available on the Scottish Government’s website.
The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) was set up to recommend to Scottish Government Ministers the actions and solutions needed to eradicate rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation in Scotland.
In line with physical distancing measures, it will not be a breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order for local authorities to use hotel and B&B accommodation where that would be the best option to self-isolate up until 30 September 2020.