Law changed to limit temporary accommodation stays to seven days in Scotland

The move has been hailed by homelessness charity Crisis following their Life in Limbo campaign

Stays in temporary accommodation will be limited to seven days in Scotland after the Scottish government announced a new change to the law.

From May 2021, the protection that is currently afforded to pregnant women with children will be extended to everyone at risk of homelessness to prevent them from staying in unsuitable accommodation like bed and breakfasts and hostels beyond a week.

There are 10,989 households living in temporary accommodation, according to Scottish government statistics, 3,415 of which have children.

SNP Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We know that people living in these unsuitable environments can for too long often lack cooking or washing facilities, and some have reported that they cannot have visits from family or friends. These experiences have a detrimental effect on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, preventing them from rebuilding their lives.”

Although the question remains, where are the people leaving temporary accommodation going to be housed?

The housing shortfall is estimated to be around 7,000 homes per year, according to a BBC study published in January, but Housing First remains a central focus of attempts to end homelessness in Scotland.

The strategy moves beyond temporary accommodation, giving rough sleepers a permanent home with wraparound support. The aim is for 830 tenancies to be provided got people in Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling by March 2021 with the last monthly update in July pointing out that 103 tenancies have been started so far.

As for the temporary accommodation change, Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes has hailed the announcement which follows on from the charity’s Life in Limbo campaign.

Their research last year gathered the experiences of 74 people living in temporary accommodation across Scotland, identifying the impact on their mental health and job prospects.

“This marks a major achievement for our Life in Limbo campaign, a three-year project which has sought to put an end to lengthy and dehumanising stays in unsupported hostels, hotels and B&Bs,” said Sparkes.

“Making sure that everyone has a home where they can begin to rebuild their lives benefits all of us. Once again Scotland has shown it is a world leader in tackling homelessness and this commitment is a major step forward towards it being the first nation in Great Britain to end homelessness for good.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish government also announced a new Funeral Support Payment to replace the DWP’s Funeral Expense Payment. Around 40 per cent more people on low income will be eligible for financial support with the majority receiving a flat rate of £700 to cover bereavement costs when the new benefit comes into force from next week.

But, as Dani Garavelli found in an investigation into funeral poverty for The Big Issue in April, the new payment will see the often-difficult process sped up but is not the “step change” that campaigners are calling for.