New rights for the homeless come into force

media captionThe deputy first minister called it a "landmark" day in the fight against homelessness

Legislation which aims to effectively end homelessness in Scotland has come into force.

The change entitles anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own to settled accommodation.

Previously, only those classed as being in priority need - often families with children - had that right.

It meets Scotland's historic 2012 homelessness commitment, first set 10 years ago by the Labour/Lib Dem government.

The change, passed unanimously last month under the Homelessness (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012, will give an estimated 3,000 more people a year the right to settled accommodation.

As the changes came into force, the deputy first minister also announced £300,000 would be spent over the next two years to help councils with their efforts to prevent homelessness.

'Heartache and trauma'

Nicola Sturgeon said: "This is a landmark day in the fight against homelessness.

"I know the heartache and trauma of homelessness from working closely with households faced with the prospect of losing the roof over their head.

"Meeting our 2012 commitment guarantees that those who lose their home from no fault of their own will be guaranteed settled accommodation.

"It is absolutely right to offer this guarantee in a time of crisis for people. It sends the signal that we are there to help, there is hope and that the state will do what it can."

Official figures from February 2012 suggested the number of homeless people in Scotland is at its lowest for a decade.

Graeme Brown, director of the housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, said: "Scotland can be very proud that it is making history by meeting the 2012 commitment - which is internationally regarded as the cutting edge of progressive homelessness reform.

"I congratulate all the local authorities who have made widespread changes in order to meet their new responsibilities to homeless people."

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