The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee today unanimously passed an amendment to the Housing (Scotland) Bill which strengthens the way in which local councils support families who are at risk of homelessness.
The amendment, by Labour MSP, Mary Mulligan, was welcomed by housing charity Shelter Scotland, which had been working with a broad alliance of organisations to promote the measure.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, said:
“I am pleased that the minister and MSPs listened to the evidence on the benefits that better support for homeless people will bring. It will ensure that people get the help to turn a house into a home and prevent the huge waste of repeat homelessness.
“I am keen now to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and local authorities to turn the new rules into effective and workable action on the ground.
“Today’s decision shows that Scotland’s politicians have an ongoing appetite to lead the way internationally on homelessness.”
The amendment on housing support has two main aims: the first is to give councils a duty to assess the needs of homeless people who it thinks might need support; the second is to provide the services that are needed.
Alastair Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Churches Housing Action, who supported the call for changes, said: “We are delighted that the amendment has passed and hope it now makes it through to the final stages of the Bill. Scottish Churches Housing Action has always taken the view that support is as important as accommodation and we look forward to working with Local Authorities to making this a reality.”
Ian Ballantyne chief executive of Scottish Veteran Residences, who also supported the call for changes, said: “Veterans Scotland is fully behind this initiative.”
Paul Moore, chief executive at Quarriers, said: “Getting the right support is a vital part of the process in helping to transform the lives of young homeless people and the passing of this amendment is a hugely positive step forward.”
Shelter Scotland also expressed delight about changes agreed to the way that council tax officials can provide information on private sector empty homes with the intention of bringing them back into use.
Notes to Editors:
1. 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.
2. Organisations that supported the changes include: Capability Scotland, Barnardos Scotland, Scottish Churches Housing Action, Quarriers and Quarriers VIP group, SAMH, One Parent Families Scotland, Impact Arts, Scottish Youth Parliament, Tenants Information Services, Scottish Veterans’ Residences on behalf of Veterans Scotland.
3. Spokespeople are available for interview, telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews.
4. For more information about Shelter Scotland visit www.shelter.org.uk
5. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterinscotland
Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
Contact: Neil Baldwin, Nicola Baxter
Phone: 0844 515 2442