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SCOTTISH OFFICE CODE OFFERS HOPE FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE

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The new Scottish Office Code of Guidance on homelessness provides a better deal for homeless people than the origin...
The new Scottish Office Code of Guidance on homelessness provides a better deal for homeless people than the original Conservative proposals, but does not cure the problem of inadequate supplies of affordable rented housing, housing's professional body said last week.

In its response to the Scottish Office's new Code of Guidance on homelessness, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) in Scotland welcomed measures to minimise the risk of homelessness recurring, and the emphasis on permanent accommodation for homeless households.

CIH Scotland policy officer Marian Reid said: 'we welcome the emphasis in the Code on permanent housing solutions for unintentionally homeless people in priority need, and the stress placed throughout on the importance of inter-agency working in tackling homelessness. However, we can see no long-term solution to the problem of homelessness without an increase in the overall supply of affordable rented housing in Scotland.

'We must also develop strategies to eradicate the growing levels of disrepair in housing stock, a task made more difficult by the cuts to housing budgets over the last few years.'

Capital allocations for local authorities in Scotland set for this year saw a cut of 35 per cent, or o119.4 million, in the amount allocated from the previous financial year, while Scottish Homes resources have also fallen over the last few years. The development funding budget for 1996/97 suffered a cut of 12.7 per cent from the previous year's figure.

On adherence to the code, CIH Scotland emphasised that the draft code should have statutory force 'to ensure equitable practice across Scotland'. Research into the last Code of Guidance (1991) showed that only two-thirds of housing organisations followed it. The CIH is concerned about the effect that a repeat of this attitude could have on services to homeless people.

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