Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Task force homes in on homelessness
The task force will be able to put forward proposals quickly
The government's new task force aimed at tackling Scotland's homelessness problem has formally begun its work.
The group, which will advise the Scottish Executive, is expected to take three years to complete its work.
Deputy Minister for Communities, Jackie Baillie, is chairing the first meeting of the Homelessness Task Force in Glasgow.
The task force was set up to review the causes and nature of homelessness in Scotland.
It will also examine current practice in dealing with cases of homelessness and make recommendations on how homelessness can best be prevented and, where it does occur, be tackled effectively.
The task force is also listening to the experiences of Big Issue magazine vendors.
The wider problem of homelessness is to be tackled by the Scottish Executive through its social inclusion strategy, but it recognises that will take time.
In the meantime, the group - including representatives of local authorities, academics and those working with the homeless such as representatives of the Big Issue - will be to able to bring forward proposals quickly to ease the situation, including preventative measures.
Some quick fixes will be possible by changing laws which mean local authorities do not need to provide accommodation for everyone.
Even mothers with children can be left homeless legally.
The Scottish National Party said if sheriffs were granted the same powers as English courts to give a reasonable time to re-pay mortgage arrears, many low income families well down the local authority list of priorities would not be at risk of homelessness.