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More support in new legislation

April 02 2010
Housing campaigners called for more support for homeless people to be included in proposed new legislation

Housing campaigners called for more support for homeless people to be included in proposed new legislation.

Leaders of the housing and homeless charity Shelter Scotland want changes to be made to proposals currently going through Holyrood.

The charity wants to see measures to improve the support available to homeless people once they have somewhere to live included in the Housing (Scotland) Bill, and it argued this could help towards meeting the 2012 target of ending homelessness.

The Scottish Government has put forward the Bill, which includes proposals to end the right to buy for new tenants, and those in new-build council and housing association homes.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, spoke out as the charity sent a written submission on the legislation to MSPs. He said: "In 2003, MSPs of all parties legislated to give everyone in Scotland the right to a home by 2012. That commitment has been envied and emulated internationally.

"But we also know that having a house is not always enough for every homeless person. Some people need support to ensure that they can manage it well and keep it. Without that support, some families can end up becoming homeless over and over again.

"That is why we need to end the 'postcode lottery' that means the availability of these services is dependent upon which local authority area you are in.

"That is why I am asking MSPs, tenants groups and housing professionals to strengthen the way that homeless people get housing support."

Shelter Scotland also wants the Bill to build on current good practice to ensure that council and housing association tenants have the same protection from eviction as homeowners. The charity is further calling for the changes to the right to buy to be more far-reaching. Mr Brown said: "If the 2012 commitment is to live up to its promise, then we must act now to pull some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw into place. Our additions to the Housing Bill will help do this."

A Scottish Government spokesman said ministers expected social landlords to "ensure all reasonable options have been exhausted before commencing eviction proceedings.

He added: "We will shortly be issuing a consultation paper to seek views from tenants, landlords and other stakeholders on a range of options for further strengthening the protection of tenants with rent arrears facing eviction in the social rented sector."