Section 8 — Suitability of accommodation for homeless persons

Part of Homelessness etc (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:30 pm on 5th March 2003.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour 3:30 pm, 5th March 2003

I support amendment 6. As the member who introduced the amendment at stage 2 to which Kenny Gibson referred, I believe that the Social Justice Committee was clear about the need to prohibit the inappropriate use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation for families. We know the detrimental effect that such accommodation has on children. Whole families often share a room and there is a lack of privacy. Support mechanisms tend to break down and families can be in bed-and-breakfast accommodation for several months. It is not necessary to rehearse all the reasons why bed-and-breakfast accommodation is detrimental for families, because we know the potential impact of such accommodation.

I do not hesitate to support amendment 6, which reflects discussions in England on the issue, but I will make several points. First, I ask that the regulations that the Executive will introduce have the effect that amendment 6 intends, which is that the principle to end the post-assessment use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation for families remains intact. I would be grateful if the minister would confirm that that will be the case. I think that amendment 6 accepts that principle, but it also allows for flexibility that could take account not just of local circumstances such as rurality but of the particular individual circumstances of a homeless family. That is a sensible approach, particularly when it is reinforced by the other part of the amendment, which will allow for regulations to be produced that will specify accommodation that is suitable, unsuitable or of an insufficient standard.

I also ask the Executive to clarify when it intends to introduce the regulations. Delays should be avoided, where possible, so that we can move swiftly to a position where housing children in bed- and-breakfast accommodation is the exception rather than the norm.