I am pleased to invite comments on the Scottish Government's proposal to publish a statement on local connection, as required by section 33B of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.
In Scotland we have some of the most progressive homelessness rights in the world and all local authorities have the responsibility to meet their existing statutory obligations and provide people with appropriate accommodation and services.
Over the past decade, national government in partnership with local authorities, the third sector and others have delivered radical changes in homelessness and affordable housing. This has contributed to a significant reduction in homelessness applications. But we can and will do more.
Our vision is to support everyone at risk of homelessness, or experiencing homelessness, to have a safe, warm settled home of their own. We can achieve this by building on our strong foundations and go further to prevent, tackle and ultimately end homelessness for good.
To help us navigate the path to ending homelessness, we asked the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) to consider the actions necessary to make the transformational changes which are required.
We are implementing HARSAG's recommendations through the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, which we published jointly with COSLA in November 2018, and have backed with a £50 million Ending Homelessness Fund. The Action Plan sets out a programme of transformative change to help end homelessness in Scotland and our Annual Progress Report demonstrates the significant progress already made over the first year of implementation.
I believe that we all want people facing homelessness to be able to choose where they want to settle and to have access to the support they need, wherever they find themselves in housing crisis.
That is why we are proposing in this consultation paper to suspend the operation of local connection referrals between local authorities in Scotland, as recommended by HARSAG. We want to remove barriers to support which can hinder the prevention of homelessness and modify how people are assessed, recognising that there are usually good reasons for wishing to live in a certain area.
I am confident that, by introducing this important change, we can remove unnecessary barriers that can prevent people receiving the person-centred support they need, when and where they need it.
I encourage you to respond to the consultation and look forward to hearing your views.
Kevin Stewart MSP
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
3 August 2020