The Scottish Government has been accused of breaking its promise to homeless people after delaying housing protections.
An order has been in force since 2014 which means a pregnant homeless person or a homeless household with children cannot be accommodated in hotels or B&Bs for longer than a week.
The unsuitable accommodation order was due to be extended to all homeless people by the Scottish Government, a major step in ensuring long-term accommodation for people without a home.
The change was meant to come into place in May of this year, but coronavirus meant the Scottish Government decided to bring the reform forward to September 2020 – then a delay pushed it back to January.
Now, a statutory instrument laid before the Scottish Parliament has proposed moving the change to June.
Shelter Scotland director Alison Watson said: “The Scottish Government has again gone back on its promise to extend vital protections to all homeless people.
“This extension gives councils a licence to put people in crisis in sub-standard temporary accommodation like hotels and B&Bs, which will harm their mental and physical health.
“Our message to Government is clear: no more excuses, no more delays. We have enough homes to get people out of unsuitable temporary accommodation, but people who are homeless are not being prioritised. This isn’t about capacity, it’s about political will.
“The Scottish Government must immediately end the use of exemptions to the unsuitable accommodation order and ensure that local authorities have the support and resources they require to get people into decent temporary accommodation.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Temporary accommodation can offer an important emergency safety net for anyone who finds themselves homeless, but it should be a purely temporary measure.
“That’s why we announced in May that we would be extending the unsuitable accommodation order to all homeless households, a year ahead of when we originally planned to.
“However as the pandemic worsens and variant strains of the virus are now moving throughout Scotland, the threat to public health is considerable.
“This is why we are extending the temporary exceptions until the end of June to allow stays in emergency temporary accommodation in response to Covid-19 and to ensure that public health is prioritised.
“We are committed to ending homelessness and have allocated £37.5 million to support councils to prioritise settled housing for all.”
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