This week I chaired the first meeting of our newly refreshed Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group (HPSG).
The group has been re-convened to oversee the work of the Scottish Government, local government and partners to end homelessness in Scotland for good.
I am looking forward to taking action through this forum in partnership with colleagues from all parts of the public and third sectors in Scotland – in partnership, we can do this.
This group has the strategic responsibility for ensuring we implement effective policy to prevent and tackle homelessness. It exists as the long term counterpart to the short term Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG).
HARSAG recently published its recommendations on how to end rough sleeping in Scotland, which I accepted in full, and is now considering actions on the rest of their remit – transforming temporary accommodation and ending homelessness for good.
In addition, over the last year the Local Government and Communities Committee (LGCC) has undertaken an extensive inquiry into homelessness and provided their evidence led recommendations.
It is the role of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group to oversee consideration of these expert recommendations and ensure we have a work programme that implements real changes to people’s experience of homelessness.
Active leadership will be crucial in ensuring this challenging agenda moves forward, and that leadership needs to happen not just at national level but through all parts of the system.
Another important lever is our £50 million ‘Ending Homelessness Together’ fund which will allow us to make significant change and improvement. More detail will be set out soon following further discussions with partners; it’s crucial we structure the fund in the right way to focus the investment on interventions that will generate the most effective and timely change.
We will ensure it funds innovative, outcome focused projects – building on the work of those already going further and faster to achieve better results for homeless people.
Ending homelessness is not a task for the Scottish Government in isolation. It is only through collaboration with the rest of the public sector and third sector organisations that we will be able to make the right changes in the right places.
The strategy group is an established forum which brings together senior stakeholders who work in homelessness and those with lived experience alongside front line delivery experience, service commissioners and policy makers. Partnership working starts from the top, and I’m co-chairing the strategy group with Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA’s community wellbeing spokesperson.
We all share the long term goal of ensuring our interventions continue to make progress towards ending homelessness and the strategy group is tasked with:
- defining the strategy for how the recommendations are taken forward,
- taking specific actions forward with all the stakeholders with whom members work, and
- evaluating that strategy and actions to ensure they are having the desired effects
I am pleased this group brings together the right active participants from across different policy areas and geographies to be able to make real change in a collaborative and effective way, and I look forward to working together in the months to come.
More information about the strategy group (including membership)