RESPONDING to the first report on the Housing Bill (1), Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, housing and homelessness charity, said:
“Measures to improve the homes we live in, as well as keep those we have, rather than selling them off through Right to Buy, are welcome in this Bill.
“There is also an opportunity here though to take real action to help keep people in their homes and stop the revolving door of homelessness.
“This can be done by introducing ‘Better Support’ for homeless people (2) in this Bill. This could be as simple as filling in benefit forms, to more specialist support. Keeping people in their own homes is better for the individuals and the public purse.”
He continued: “There is widespread backing for our ‘Better Support’ call already, with young people, children’s, veterans and disability charities, all backing the need for strengthened powers to make sure people get the help sometimes needed to keep their home. (3)
“The committee’s report highlights that there is merit in our proposal but leaves it in the hands of the Scottish Government. It’s up to Housing Minister, Alex Neil, now to champion the rights of homeless people and push for better prevention of homelessness. He has spoken of his support for the 2012 homelessness commitment – now he needs to commit to the support needed to make it a reality. (4)”
Notes to Editors:
1. The Local Government and Communities Committee today published its Stage One report on the Housing Bill, which is currently going through Parliament. See this here. Shelter Scotland supports Scottish Government proposals to reform Right to Buy and how housing is regulated – but is also arguing for new measures to provide Better Support, reduce evictions, and increase housing options for homeless people. To read Shelter Scotland submission on the Housing Bill, click here.
2. Shelter Scotland wants to see strengthened powers to ensure homeless people can access the support they need to manage and keep a tenancy. Under the charity’s proposals, an assessment of what support is appropriate would be made at the time someone registers as homeless. They would then be directed towards relevant advice and support, either before, during or after a move into a new home, depending on their circumstances. To read Shelter Scotland’s paper on ‘Access to support to prevent homelessness: proposals for the Housing Bill’, click here.
3. In April, charities from across Scotland wrote to Housing Minister Alex Neil asking that Better Support was included in the Housing Bill. See here for more details.
4. By 2012 all unintentionally homeless people should have access to a permanent home, under Scottish legislation. Currently, only people designated to be in ‘priority need’ – generally families with children – have the right to permanent homes. All others have access to only temporary accommodation and support. By 2012, there will be no distinction and everyone will have the right to a home.
5. Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity. Shelter Scotland believes that everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.
6. Spokespeople are available for interview, telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews.
7. For more information about Shelter Scotland visit www.shelter.org.uk.
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Contact: Christina Cran, Nicola Baxter
Phone: 0844 515 2442