Scottish Government back-tracks on homeless protections

Posted 14 Jan 2021

We’ve slammed the Scottish Government’s decision to backtrack on its promise to homeless people to end the continued use of harmful substandard temporary accommodation during lockdown.

Since 2014 the Unsuitable Accommodation Order has protected pregnant women and families with children who are homeless from being stuck in hotels or B&Bs, for more than a week. The policy recognises that hotels are not a home and that long term stays in such
accommodation is harmful to people’s life chances. That was why before the pandemic Scottish Minsters promised to extend this protection to all homeless people from May 2021.

At the start of lockdown, in response to fears over how homeless people could socially distance when sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities, Scottish Minister’s promised to bring the protections forward. The order was extended to cover all homeless people in May last year, but its implementation was delayed first until September and then until January 2021. Today, a Scottish Statutory Instrument has been laid which would postpone it by a further six months, to June 2021.

Commenting on the decision, our director, Alison Watson, said:

“The Scottish Government has again gone back on its promise to extend vital protections to
all homeless people.

“This extension gives councils a license to put people in crisis in sub-standard temporary
accommodation like hotels and B&Bs, which will harm their mental and physical health.

“Our message to Government is clear: no more excuses, no more delays. The homes exist to get people out of unsuitable temporary accommodation, but people who are homeless are not being prioritised. This isn’t about capacity, it’s about political will.

“The Scottish Government must immediately end the use of exemptions to the Unsuitable Accommodation Order and ensure that Local Authorities have the support and resources they require to get people into decent temporary accommodation.

She added:

"Ministers should also set up a temporary accommodation taskforce to take a national view on demand for and supply of temporary accommodation. As a priority, this taskforce
should consider ways to secure more social housing tenancies for people who are
homeless.”

Notes to editors:


1.      The Scottish Statutory Instrument setting out the extension can be
viewed here

2.      Details of the Scottish Government’s announcement in May are available here, and more information on the September delay here.

3.      Scottish Housing Regular data shows that a minority (39% in November) of
social lets are going to homeless households. Dashboard available here. This shows that
homes are available, but that homeless households aren’t being prioritised.

4.      Spokespeople are available for interview - call the media team on 0844
515 2442.

5.      Shelter Scotland’s services continue to operate during the pandemic with
all advice now provided online or by webchat or phone. For advice on keeping
your home during the outbreak visit shelterscotland.org/coronavirusadvice

6.      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.

Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people
find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.