PROPOSALS by the Scottish Government to put all new social housing tenants on ‘probation’ have been strongly criticised by a powerful coalition of leading Scottish charities(1).
Spearheaded by Shelter Scotland, the charities have written to Scotland’s Housing and Welfare Minister, Margaret Burgess MSP, to warn that probationary or ‘introductory’ tenancies are an attack on hard-won tenants’ rights, unfairly stigmatise all council and housing association tenants and could ultimately destabilise Scotland’s social housing sector.
The coalition of charities says the proposals are unnecessary and discriminatory and would in effect penalise the majority of social tenants for the bad behaviour of a small minority.
Shelter Scotland warned it would campaign vigorously to defend tenants’ rights to security of tenure – which were only secured in 1980.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, says:
“People need to feel safe and secure in their home – not have the threat of eviction hanging round their neck. At the start of a new tenancy, people need support not suspicion and penalties.
“Introducing probationary tenancies would be a big step backwards in tenants’ rights. It is totally unnecessary as social landlords already have a range of tools at their disposal – backed by legislation – to deal with anti-social and criminal behaviour if it occurs.”
Graeme Brown added:
“At a time when some UK politicians have sought to stigmatise social housing tenants as scroungers and welfare cuts threaten families’ ability to keep their home, Scotland’s politicians have the opportunity to strike a different tone.
“We believe it is a mistake to follow the lead of English landlords or mirror Westminster’s language of division. We are calling on Scottish Ministers to reject probationary tenancies which simply penalise all new tenants for the behaviour of a small minority.
“Everyone needs a secure affordable home and we will campaign vigorously to defend the rights of all of Scotland’s 595,000 households living in social housing.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Signatories to the letter: Shelter Scotland, Oxfam Scotland, Barnardo’s, Child Poverty Action Group, Children in Scotland, Glasgow Homeless Network, Glasgow West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, Homeless Action Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Scottish Churches Housing Action, Scottish Drugs Forum, The Poverty Alliance.
2. Shelter Scotland helps over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness – and we campaign to prevent it in the first place. We’re here so no-one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own. For advice and support visit www.shelterscotland.org or call 0808 800 4444.
3. Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.