Skip to main content

Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-09503: Alison Johnstone (Lothian)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 30 May 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Child Poverty Action Group, Poverty and Child Health, which suggested that over 40% of doctors that it surveyed had difficulty discharging children from hospital due to concerns about housing or food insecurity.

Answered by: Kevin Stewart 7 June 2017

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to warm, safe, good quality housing and is taking this forward through a range of measures.

The tolerable standard is the minimum standard for all living accommodation in buildings in Scotland. The latest figures for compliance with the tolerable standard (Scottish House Condition Survey 2015) shows 2% (or 42,000) of all dwellings falling below the tolerable standard, an improvement of nearly 2 percentage points since 2012.

The Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) applies to all socially rented homes in Scotland. Driven by this standard social landlords have invested over £3bn since 2007 to ensure tenants live in warmer, safer, and drier homes. The most recent figures from the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) show that 92.8% of social housing met the SHQS in March 2016.

In the private rented sector, the repairing standard has been strengthened to improve the safety of tenants, and the powers available to local authorities to enforce housing standards on behalf of tenants have been enhanced. Since the repairing standard was introduced in 2007, there have been rising expectations of what is needed to ensure homes are safe and we are currently consulting on proposals to extend the standard across a range of elements, including the storage of food, safe kitchens and the provision of fridges and freezers.

Scotland has strong rights for homeless households with children, who may be placed in temporary accommodation while they wait for appropriate, sustainable permanent accommodation. Statutory guidance on the Best Interests of Children Facing Homelessness makes clear to local authorities the importance of ensuring that temporary accommodation for households with children is suitable for their needs. We want time in temporary accommodation to be as short as possible and are increasing housing supply to help with this with a target of 50,000 affordable new homes during this parliament.

On 5 October 2016 we published our Fairer Scotland Action Plan which sets out the actions we will take to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland. We are investing in a range of different support measures including the Scottish Welfare Fund, which provides a safety net for vulnerable people on low incomes through the provision of Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants. We are continuing to invest in advice services projects which will help maximise household incomes, and we are also taking action in a range of areas, including investing in affordable housing, increasing childcare, demonstrating our commitment to a real Living Wage, and mitigating against the worst of UK Government welfare changes.