The Scottish Government has published its long-awaited new Housing Bill. But what could it mean for people living in Scotland?

While there have been some adjustments to rent control, joint tenancies and rights to pets and redecoration, the bill fails to address the systemic issues driving the housing emergency in Scotland. And that currently means 10,000 children living in temporary accommodation.

A broken housing system

Reflecting on the past 18 months of the housing emergency in Scotland, and considering the challenges that lie ahead, the priority for the Scottish Government should be to address the underlying issues within our housing system. There is a clear risk that the government imposing new duties on public bodies within an already broken and biased system, will only worsen the existing problems we see and hear about in our work every day. One of the pressing issues is the consistent failure of some councils to fulfil their legal obligations to homeless individuals.

In the past year, we have seen four local authorities declare housing emergencies, with more expected to follow. The Scottish Government must find a way to prevent councils from violating their legal duties towards homeless individuals. That means a national plan to buy and build more homes, use existing homes more effectively and invest in local services. Simply put, there is no realistic prospect of councils being able to fulfil new statutory obligations given that local authorities are already failing to meet existing legal duties.

Scotland needs more social homes

Urgent action is needed to drive up the supply of social homes, invest in local services and to stop councils breaking existing homelessness laws.

The parts of this bill which seek to address homelessness sadly do none of those things and risk making an already bad situation worse. It will place additional burdens on local authorities without providing the necessary support or resources they need to fulfil them. It also fails to deliver what Scotland’s 10,000 homeless children need and offers them no hope for a safe, secure and affordable home in the future.

It is time for Scottish Ministers to listen to what our communities are telling them – declare a housing emergency and bring forward a new plan to deliver the social homes we need.

About the author

Sarah Beveridge