Housing and Social Justice
Homelessness progress update: spring 2019
THE FIVE-YEAR Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan sets out how national and local government, with third sector partners are working to prevent homelessness and address people’s needs quickly when homelessness does happen. It is backed by a £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund to support change on the ground so that people get the right help at the right time, and is underpinned by the views of people with lived experience of homelessness who would like services to respond urgently and flexibly to people’s individual housing and support needs. The immediate priorities for delivery in 2019-20 include the following:
- Reviewing all 32 local authority Rapid Rehousing Transitions Plans so that we can begin to invest £23.5 million allocated from the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund and the health portfolio, in rapid rehousing and Housing First. This will support people into settled accommodation as quickly as is appropriate for their individual needs and ensure support for those with more complex needs.
- Consulting on temporary accommodation standards to ensure it meets people’s needs and, proposals to extend the seven day restriction on unsuitable accommodation – currently in place for families with children and pregnant women – to everyone who needs to stay in temporary accommodation.
- Developing a new national model of frontline outreach, recognising that front line workers are the key link between people rough sleeping and the services that support them. This is informed by ongoing work with partners to support outreach services to ensure people at risk of rough sleeping are safe and warm, backed by nearly one million pounds from the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund since November 2017.
- Creating options for a new national rough sleeping data collection so that frontline workers have access to local information about people who are rough sleeping and are able to offer the right help at the right time.
- Publishing proposals following our consultation on local connection and intentionality. This explores how to modify this power and duty which are applied when people are being assessed as homeless, recognising that there are usually good reasons for people wishing to live in a certain area and sometimes, complex health and wellbeing issues that need to be addressed when people are found to be intentionally homeless.
- Working with local authorities and others to explore how a new Prevention Duty could work in practice in preparation for a consultation on this and, on a revised Homelessness Code of Guidance to ensure this is up to date and supports delivery of our ending homelessness plans.
- Launching a lived experience programme which will underpin all our ending homelessness together work and include informing a range of prevention pathways for those groups of people that are more predictably at risk of homelessness. Recognising also that too many people feel stigma associated with being homeless, we will also take forward, with partners, lived experience public perception activity to aim to change the conversation around homelessness; so that it is focused on collective solutions to end homelessness.
Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning said:
“Our Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan responds to 70 bold and visionary recommendations made by the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group and a comprehensive report by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee. The Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group – which I co-chair with Cllr Elena Whitham, COSLA’s spokesperson for Community Wellbeing – is now leading this work to ensure we deliver on our shared ambitions, to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place, prioritise settled housing for all and end homelessness for good.”
Prevention and Rights
OVER THE LAST ten years, our strong focus on prevention, through the establishment of five regional Housing Options Hubs, has contributed towards a significant fall in homelessness applications, with a 39 per cent decrease since 2008-09. All those assessed as homeless by local authorities in Scotland have a right to accommodation, unlike the rest of the UK. Those at risk of homelessness are legally entitled to help and support from local authorities, to stop people losing their home and help them find another as soon as possible. This also helps identify other contributing issues, such as debt or mental health problems, so that the right support measures can be put in place. Up to 18 per cent of those who approach their local authority for assistance do not go on to be assessed as homeless, often due to a change in circumstances. For those who do become homeless, the availability of temporary accommodation means that people have a place to stay until permanent accommodation is found, and support, if needed, is in place.
Homelessness Team, Scottish Government