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4. Unfortunately, this question, which I must read out, is quite long.
To ask the Deputy First Minister what the Scottish Government’s position is on Shelter Scotland’s statement that around 5,000 children will be housed in temporary accommodation over Christmas and that the law must be changed to enable families to challenge inadequate temporary accommodation. (S4F-01655)
One child in unsuitable temporary accommodation is one more than any of us wants to see. Since 2008, the number of families with children who are housed in bed and breakfasts has reduced by 85 per cent, but there is clearly more work to do, and we are doing it. Through a stakeholder advisory group, we are working with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, local authorities and bodies such as Shelter. The group will report its findings next month.
Given that the bedroom tax and welfare cuts will undoubtedly exacerbate the position, and given that research by Shelter Scotland has shown that children who are in such temporary accommodation are two to three times more likely to be absent from school because of the disruption, will the Deputy First Minister accelerate her discussions with COSLA and local authorities to ensure that the use of temporary accommodation is very limited? It is damaging to children and has many consequences.
I assure Christine Grahame that that will be done. The group that I spoke about includes COSLA and local authority representatives, and we will work with them to try to prevent the use of B and Bs. There is no doubt that the coalition Government’s welfare cuts agenda is making such matters worse, but we will continue to do all that we can to further alleviate and eradicate the problem.