Section 4: Consultation Questions on Enforceable Temporary Accommodation (TA) standards
Phase 2 - Enforceable Standards
In Section 3 we mentioned that a two stage process will be required to improve TA standards with Phase 1 producing a set of new advisory TA standards. For Phase 2 we want to consider how we develop these advisory standards into a TA standards framework and ensure it is implemented by all local authorities to guarantee that all temporary accommodation throughout Scotland is of a consistently high quality.
HARSAG believed that better standards could be achieved through the introduction of legal mechanisms to ensure that all temporary accommodation used by local authorities in exercising their statutory duties reaches a certain standard. It recommended achieving this through secondary legislation, either through the powers conferred on Ministers through Section 7 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 or by creating further regulations under Section 29 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.
As outlined in Section 1 local authorities across Scotland use a wide range of different types of temporary accommodation utilising different tenure types when providing homeless households with temporary accommodation. The standard of all accommodation in Scotland is covered by a variety of different pieces of legislation and regulation which govern the physical and safety standards of the accommodation itself and the service and management standards associated with the support provided to those that live there.
However, existing legislation and regulation does not provide a comprehensive set of standards across temporary accommodation. Taking into account HARSAG's views and recommendations we are proposing that a standards framework cover and point to existing legislative and regulatory mechanisms that set accommodation standards, while filling in the gaps to ensure that standards in temporary furnished flats in the private and social rented sector, hostels, B&Bs and refuges are of a consistent, high quality.
In order to ensure compliance with existing and new legislation of standards in temporary accommodation we would like to consider a range of measures that could support enforcement of standards. As part of the development of the new framework we will work in partnership with the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) to ensure that, as part of their role in assessing the performance of local authorities discharging their statutory duties, that they can support the monitoring and assessment of performance in meeting existing and new legislative standards across temporary accommodation.
We also plan to set up a Working Group next year who will help to produce a new standards framework, identify the legislative changes needed and advise on how these could be regulated and enforced.
At this stage our priority is developing and refining the advisory standards in Phase 1 but we are seeking your initial views on how this legislative framework will be shaped and developed.
1. HARSAG recommended we work with the Scottish Housing Regulator to explore options for enforcing new TA standards. In order to enforce standards it is likely this will need to be achieved through the introduction of legislation. We propose that rather than trying to create legislation that seeks to set a uniform standard across all types and tenures of temporary accommodation, that we develop a standards framework that recognises the existing legislation and regulation and seeks to fill in the gaps, utilising appropriate legislative mechanisms.
Do you agree with this approach? Please explain your answer.
2. We want to better understand how local authorities currently monitor the standard of temporary accommodation that is used to place homeless households.
Please can you tell us what sort of processes and procedures are in place to:
- assess the standards of these types of property;
- address issues where standards are not being met;
- monitor ongoing issues.
3. It is possible that some local authorities may not be able to meet new standards on temporary accommodation when introduced. Do you think that there should be sanctions, such as penalties or fines applied to those local authorities failing to meet the new standards? Please explain your answer.
4. Please tell us about any other approaches or options that you consider are appropriate to implement to ensure that local authorities adhere to new temporary accommodation standards.
5. In line with the HARSAG recommendation, we also envisage a role for the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) in monitoring and assessing performance in meeting new standards.
Do you agree that it would be appropriate for SHR to take on this role utilising their current powers or by extending their current powers? Please explain your answer.
6. In establishing up a Working Group to take forward the production of a new standards framework we will set terms of reference which will define their purpose, aims and objectives. In setting the remit of the group, what do you think the Group need to take into account as they develop a new standards framework for temporary accommodation?