Media Release: Shelter and Church leader call on new minister to grant homeless children’s Christmas sish

SHELTER is calling on Malcolm Chisholm to use this opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to end the use of B&Bs for homeless children this Christmas, before it is too late.

Dr Alison Elliott, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “A home isn’t just for Christmas but it’s at Christmas that the plight of homeless children makes a special impact on our sense of decency. I hope that the minister will make good his predecessor’s pledge not to use B&Bs to house children at Christmas or any other time of the year.”

Liz Nicholson, director of Shelter Scotland said: “No child in 21st century Scotland should suffer the indignity of living in B&B accommodation. Even in an emergency, seven days is the longest any child should be forced to live in these conditions – anything longer will be a loophole that effectively means B&Bs are not banned at all. The minister can really make his mark by backing the pledge made by his predecessor. But Christmas is getting close, so he must act now to make sure that not one more homeless child has to spend the festive season in a B&B.”

Notes to editors:

1. During the passage of the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003, Shelter successfully lobbied for a clause to be inserted, allowing the Communities Minister to prescribe which types of temporary accommodation COULD NOT be used to house homeless families with children. The
intention was to use that power to ban Bed & Breakfast hotels for homeless families.

2. Shelter acknowledges that there are some circumstances where B&Bs may have to be used in emergencies (e.g. if a fire makes a family homeless on a Saturday night), but the most any family should remain in a B&B is seven days.

3. Regulations have to be placed before parliament before the order can go ‘live’. If the Scottish Executive only ensures the regulations go ‘live’ in December, Local Authorities will not have time to deliver on them by Christmas.

4. The number of children living in Bed and Breakfast across Scotland increased by 26% between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004, from 185 to 234.

5. Shelter believes everyone should have a home and helps 100,000 people a year fight for their rights, get back on their feet, and find and keep a home. We also tackle the root causes of Britain’s housing crisis by campaigning for new laws, policies and solutions. Shelter launched the Million Children Campaign in April 2004 aimed at getting government to commit to ending bad housing for the next generation of children. For more information about Shelter visit

6. Shelter runs Shelterline, supported by Bradford & Bingley, the UK’s free national housing advice line on 0808 800 4444, and provides advice online at

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Contact: Kate Seymour Media Officer Shelter Scotland Tel: 0131 473 7177