THE Scottish Government has brought forward a new rule to ensure homeless people have access to quality accommodation during the coronavirus crisis.
People who are moved into bed and breakfast accommodation will not have to stay there longer than seven days before they receive a more settled home – unless it is necessary for self-isolation.
A statutory instrument called the Unacceptable Accommodation Order currently prohibits councils from placing pregnant women or families with children into B&Bs or hotels for more than a week.
This has now been extended to all homeless people, a commitment originally due to be introduced next year.
READ MORE: Coronavirus: How Scottish cities are protecting the homeless
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.”
He added: “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.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, welcomed the move, saying the Scottish Government and charities have acted quickly to protect homeless people.
He said: “Today’s measures must set the template for a future that puts control and choice in the hands of the individual.
“It will also require service providers to be properly funded to provide high quality, safe services that can meet the aim of ending the cycle of homelessness.”
Brown added: “At Shelter Scotland, we have been campaigning for many years to an end to practice of forcing homeless people to share bathrooms, kitchens or live in cramped conditions.
“With experts predicting that the Covid-19 may surge again later in the year, homeless people need protection now.”