In North Ayrshire the council owns 63% of the accommodation used as temporary accommodation, and the bedroom tax will apply to approximately two thirds of those properties. Will the Minister look again at the definition of temporary accommodation, given that this policy will simply mean that local authorities end up spending a lot more on less suitable accommodation from the private sector?
We think that local authorities using their own stock to discharge their homelessness function should, wherever possible, house people in appropriately sized accommodation. If there are short-term problems in matching families to accommodation size, discretionary payments are available and can be used to support any shortfall a local authority may experience.
Half of all the temporary accommodation in Scotland is council-owned and the accommodation size reflects the existing housing stock and a varying range of needs in that sector. The discretionary housing budget in Scotland will not even cover the cost of keeping disabled people in specially adapted homes, so in no way will it cover the needs of people in temporary accommodation. Will the Government look again at this and reconsider what I can only assume is an unintended consequence or an oversight?
The hon. Lady raises the important issue of the mismatch between the housing stock and families who need housing. That has gone unaddressed for decades and we now need to address it. We recognise that there may be particular issues in Scotland, partly with rurality and partly with the housing stock, and we are happy to continue having that conversation with hon. Members.