Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 21st June 2007.

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Photo of Charlie Gordon Charlie Gordon Labour 11:40 am, 21st June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will investigate and report to the Parliament on evidence submitted to it suggesting that certain councils may be in breach of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2004 and its associated code of guidance by routinely housing homeless persons in bed and breakfast accommodation outside their local authority areas. (S3O-318)

Photo of Stewart Maxwell Stewart Maxwell Scottish National Party

I am aware of the member's comments on the subject in yesterday's Herald . Officials of the local authorities named have denied breaching the order by placing homeless households in the accommodation in Glasgow that was referred to. Glasgow City Council, along with other authorities, has agreed protocols to manage out-of-area placements for homeless people and the number of placements has decreased significantly.

Photo of Charlie Gordon Charlie Gordon Labour

I have sent the minister a letter and appended the evidence that I gathered, under freedom of information, from the councils to which he referred. I look forward to his having an opportunity to study the information. Is he aware that several premises in my constituency are constantly used by homeless persons from outside Glasgow, who are sent by councils without professional support, which results in personal crises and has an impact on local residents? Will he personally scrutinise the legitimacy of those councils' actions?

Photo of Stewart Maxwell Stewart Maxwell Scottish National Party

I have not received the member's letter yet. When it arrives, I will read carefully his comments and any evidence he has attached. The member makes an important point: if there is evidence of a breach of the code, that is unacceptable, but until we can consider the evidence, I am unable to go much further. I will be happy, if the evidence holds up, to write to the local authorities concerned, bring them in for a meeting to discuss the problems, and ensure that we overcome the problems so that there are no breaches of the code in the member's area or in others.

Photo of Jamie McGrigor Jamie McGrigor Conservative

As the homelessness figures have increased, and following concerns that the legislation is not fit for purpose, will the minister consider an urgent review of the homelessness problems that now face us and how best to deal with them?

Photo of Stewart Maxwell Stewart Maxwell Scottish National Party

The member may be interested in this afternoon's debate on housing, and I am sure he is aware that the Government has committed to the 2012 target on homelessness. There is no doubt that it is a tough target and that it will be difficult to meet. This afternoon, I will lay out some of the possible ways in which we can get much closer to achieving it by 2012. I hope that the member will take part in that discussion and in the discussions in the near future.