Expert says Housing (Scotland) Bill could make homelessness worse

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Paul Brown from the Legal Services Agency told MSPs some provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Bill would make the problem of homelessness worse.

Mr Brown said with the number of rough sleepers in Glasgow soaring, the approaches in the legislation for managing anti-social behaviour would make the position "more difficult" with people accused or guilty of anti-social behaviour thrown onto the "tender mercies of the private sector", which had none of the resources for dealing with mental health or behavioural issues.

The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee was continuing its scrutiny of the bill in the second evidence session on 22 January 2014.

Committee convener Maureen Watt said the problem with homelessness was specific to Glasgow due to the council not having their own housing stock and "reneging on its obligations to the homeless".

Ms Watt said the number of applications for homelessness was falling in the rest of Scotland.

Mr Brown replied that there needed to be a change in the way housing was allocated to give more priority to vulnerable and avoid anti-social people becoming a "homeless underclass".

Garry Burns from Govan Law Centre said the issue of homelessness was happening in every community in Scotland and needed to be addressed.

Mr Burns added the Scottish government had to find a solution to "very, very high rents" in the private sector and should consider capping these rents.

He also said the consultation for the bill had not included enough tenants' voices nor enough organisations representing the young.

Michael Clancy from The Law Society also gave evidence.

The bill also includes provisions on social housing, the law affecting private housing, the regulation of letting agents and the abolition of the right to buy.

Watch part one of the committee here: Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 1

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