Social care and housing services
According to research most disabled Gypsy/Travellers and carers do not access social care services regularly.
We introduced the Self-directed Support (Scotland) Act 2013 to promote choice and control in social care delivery.
We funded MECOPP (Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project) to help organisations working with the Gypsy/Traveller population to access self-directed support.
The National Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010–2015 identified that Gypsy/Travellers required further support.
We provided £17 million between 2010 and 2016 to provide short breaks for unpaid carers. These breaks are promoted to the Gypsy/Traveller community through the Travellers' Times.
Housing adaptations pilot test sites
Despite the community's young age profile, Gypsy/Travellers face high levels of disability.
Adaptations play a major part in helping disabled people to live independently. We are piloting the Independent Adaptations Working Group's recommendations in five test sites across the country (Borders, Fife, Falkirk, Aberdeen and Lochaber in Highland).
We will publish an evaluation of the pilots before the end of 2017, which will inform the next steps we take towards the delivery and funding of housing adaptation arrangements.
Local housing strategies
Local housing strategies set out councils' plans and priorities for housing and housing-related services, including those for Gypsy/Travellers. We review the strategies to ensure the needs of Gypsy/Travellers have been considered and addressed.
Guidance on minimum quality standards for Gypsy/Traveller sites
Gypsy/Travellers living on sites owned by councils have the right to the same quality standards and level of service as tenants living in social housing. To make it clear what standards are expected, in 2015 we published guidance on minimum site standards and tenants' core rights and responsibilities.
The guidance aims to:
- make conditions better on sites by establishing whether site improvements are needed
- increase awareness among Gypsy/Travellers about their rights and responsibilities while living on sites owned by councils and housing associations
Minimum site standards
Minimum site standards are now part of the Scottish Social Housing Charter as part of its review in 2016. This gives site standards the same legal status as the Scottish Housing Quality Standards.
Site providers have until June 2018 to make sure their sites meet the standards. Gypsy/Travellers living on sites owned by councils must be provided with secure tenancy agreements. Site providers are expected to reflect the rights and responsibilities in the guidance in the individual tenancy agreements they have with tenants.
Gypsy/Travellers have a right to their traditional way of life, but that right must be exercised responsibly, and balanced against the rights of the wider community.
While many unauthorised sites do not cause any problems, on a small number of sites anti-social behaviour can be an issue (both from those living on the site and the settled community around it).
The guidance reflects the principles that:
- unauthorised sites should be managed to minimise disruption for all concerned
- the same standards of behaviour should be expected from all members of the community
It was developed with stakeholders including local authorities, Police Scotland, Gypsy/Travellers and equality groups.
Many Gypsy/Travellers prefer to live on private sites, which can help support their independence, self-sufficiency and security. But they have often found it difficult to access the planning system and get the appropriate permission to develop their own sites.
Making provision for the development of private sites can help Gypsy/Travellers to maintain their traditional lifestyle.
And approval of more Gypsy/Traveller sites, which are sound in planning terms, could also ease accommodation pressures for the community as a whole, and potentially reduce the number of unauthorised encampments.
The Scottish Government funded a project by PAS (formerly Planning Aid Scotland) to increase awareness of the needs of Gypsy/Travellers in accessing the planning system.
It resulted in five planning guides regarding Gypsy/Travellers and the planning system. They were published in April 2015 and aimed at Gypsy/Travellers, planning professionals, elected members, community councillors and the media.
Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) was published in 2014. It requires councils to plan for the current and future needs of the Gypsy/Traveller community, and to involve the community in planning and decision-making which affects them.
Scottish Ministers have made it clear that they want Scotland's plan-led system to be more effective and that plans need to be up-to-date, place-based and enabling.