Modifying local connection referrals - Ministerial statement: consultation analysis

Analysis report of responses received to the consultation on a Ministerial statement for modifying local connection referrals in Scotland.


10. Local authorities currently have the power, but not a duty, under Section 33 of Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (“the 1987 Act”), to refer households they have assessed as homeless and who do not have a local connection with them to another local authority where they do have such a connection. This power does not apply where the person has been assessed as intentionally homeless, as there is no duty to provide settled accommodation.

11. Local connection is defined at Section 27 of the 1987 Act. A local connection is currently formed on the basis of residence of the applicant’s own choice, employment, family associations or any special circumstance, such as health reasons or education.

Local Connection Statistics

12. The most recent Homelessness in Scotland: 2019 to 2020 Statistics show that the power to refer applicants to another local authority on the grounds of local connection is used rarely (170 cases in 2019/20), and has been decreasing over time (see table 54). The statistics also show that, in 2019/20, 91% of homeless households had a connection to the local authority to which they made their application. A further 5% had no local connection to any local authority within Scotland. This means that only 4% (1,195) of households making a homeless application had a connection to another local authority other than the area they applied to. In 2019/2020 the majority of these cases (925, or 77% of the total) were in Glasgow City Council, and none of these were referred to other local authorities.


13. In August 2020, the Scottish Government launched the consultation paper on a Ministerial Statement for modifying local connection referrals in Scotland.

14. The consultation paper posed four questions related to the proposed content for the ministerial statement as well as to invite further views on the Scottish Government’s proposal to suspend referrals between Scottish local authorities, as recommended by the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (“HARSAG”).

15. The consultation followed on from a consultation paper issued by the Scottish Government in January 2019 which invited views on a recommendation from HARSAG to commence the provision in Section 8 of the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”) to give Scottish Ministers the power to modify, by statutory order, referrals for local connection. HARSAG also recommended that Ministers use the new power to suspend referrals between local authorities in Scotland.

16. Following the 2019 consultation, the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2019 commenced the local connection provisions, giving Scottish Ministers the power, under Section 33A of the 1987 Act, to modify the operation of referrals between local authorities within Scotland.

17. The provisions also required that, under Section 33B of the 1987 Act, Scottish Ministers must publish a statement setting out the circumstances and general criteria, by reference to which, modifications would take place.

18. The 2019 order also commenced the provision in Section 4 of the 2003 Act to change the duty for local authorities to investigate for intentionality to a power to investigate, and this was commenced in November 2019.

Profile of participants and engagement with the consultation

19. The consultation received 44 responses from individuals and organisations, with 7 from individual participants and the remaining 37 responses from a range of organisations, as shown below:

Table 1: Respondent Groups
Category No. of respondents
Local Authority 25
Professional Bodies 1
Tenant Group 4
Third Sector 5
Legal 1
Public Bodies 1
Total Organisations 37
Individuals 7
Grand Total 44

20. An analysis of the responses was undertaken by officials in the Scottish Government Homelessness Unit. All four questions invited a qualitative response and no quantitative analysis was undertaken.

21. An overview of the responses to each question is provided in this report and individual responses are available to view on the Scottish Government’s consultation hub Citizen Space.

22. This report presents the range of views expressed and trends amongst responses. During analysis it became evident that some participants repeated aspects of their responses across questions. In some cases, parts of a response aligned more closely with another question in the consultation document. To avoid repetition, analysis is presented under the most appropriate heading/question.



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