TripAdvisor-style ratings to improve Edinburgh's homeless B&Bs

HOMELESS families will be able to rate the quality of their temporary accommodation in Edinburgh under a new system intended to drastically improve facilities.
Homeless people on the streets of EdinburghHomeless people on the streets of Edinburgh
Homeless people on the streets of Edinburgh

The city council has pledged extra funding to upgrade B&Bs used to house homeless people with 650 households currently forced to stay in the temporary accommodation every night in the capital.

The council administration is pushing ahead with plans to “eradicate” the housing of families in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation - but with housing stock depleted, the authority wants to improve facilities so families can wash their own clothes and use kitchens to prepare their own food when alternative accommodation cannot be found in the short-term.

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Developing a system for users to rate their accommodation is being looked at as part of the drive.

Convener of the council’s Housing and Economy Committee, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “It’s almost a TripAdvisor-type thing for the B&Bs.

“It will hopefully improve the quality and make people feel a bit more empowered and give them a confidential way of reporting issues.”

The council had initially pledged to end the use of B&Bs for homeless families and 16 and 17-year-olds by the summer - but will now look at “a range of potential options to secure alternative accommodation options for 16/17 year olds”. 

Around half of 16 and 17-year-olds who present as homeless are placed initially in temporary accommodation.

Cllr Campbell added: “The ambitious aim was to end the use of B&Bs but the issue we have is there’s a lack of affordable housing.

“Ultimately the way to tackle this is to get more affordable housing in Edinburgh. I still don’t think we should have people in B&Bs. As we cannot change that at the moment, this seemed like a valuable way to spend some of that money.”

She said improving the quality of the accommodation was the aim in the short-term: “It’s consistently something that comes up - it’s a real issue for people if they’re in B&Bs. You don’t have access to a kitchen, food storage or washing machine - meaning you’re not able to feed yourself properly and keep your clothes clean.

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“We are spending some money on increasing that. B&Bs will have storage for food and washing machines. From the extra £2m from the budget for homelessness, that’s one of the things we are spending money on.”

The authority has agreed to provide £872,000 for a private sector leasing scheme, operated by Link Housing, to provide a “more attractive option for existing and new landlords to increase the stock of suitable interim accommodation for homeless households”.

In order to move all families out of B&Bs, the council needs to find 130 extra properties.

Under the proposals, council workers will also be trained up so they can offer better support to rough sleepers. The council’s  housing allocations policy will also be reviewed.

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