We are delighted to present this second progress report, updating on the delivery of the Ending Destitution Together strategy. The joint strategy, published in March 2021, continues to build on the inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee which highlighted the increased risk of destitution facing those with no recourse to public funds. This group were found to be increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking, violence, and coercion as a result of insecure immigration status and restricted access to support services.
Scottish Government and Local Government remain committed to supporting the human rights of those fleeing violence and persecution, as illustrated by the continuing work to support displaced people from Ukraine across Scotland. Ending Destitution Together clearly sets out our inclusive approach, whilst recognising that there are limits on action that can be taken because immigration and nationality, including NRPF policy, are reserved to the UK Parliament.
The strategy provides the route map for stakeholders and partners to come together to deliver support to those most at risk of destitution. This work builds on precedents set during the COVID-19 crisis, to ensure essential support is made available to those as risk of destitution. Going forward, this work will integrate learning on support made available to those at risk of destitution throughout the pandemic to safeguard communities from the impacts of current and future challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis and UK Government legislative changes.
This second year of progress has included joint work at a national level with key partners to deliver; the continuation of the Scottish Crisis Fund project in partnership with the British Red Cross to support those facing destitution and is inclusive of people with no recourse to public funds; work to ensure dignity in the provision of culturally appropriate food for those facing destitution in partnership with the Govan Community Project; the progression of the Everyone Home Collective which seeks to end destitution and homelessness through aligning the Ending Destitution Together and Ending Homelessness Together strategies; guidance and training for councils on migrants rights and entitlements; continued support of the Scottish Refugee Council and Fair Way Scotland in delivering a national helpline providing a coordinated approach to triage needs, identifying where specialist legal advice may be able to resolve underlying status issues or access to support, and provide third sector advice for other (non-legal) needs; and increased access to advice and casework support for migrants through a COSLA partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
We have continued to navigate challenges throughout 2022/23 which continue to have an impact; we are now living through a cost of living crisis; the continued war in Ukraine; the commencement and implementation of the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Act; and the recently introduced Illegal Migration Act. As co-owners of this strategy, Scottish Government and COSLA recognise these challenges have created additional complexity and pressure across this area of work. We will continue our joint commitment to support those who are at risk of, or are, destitute, where we have the devolved competency to do so. We will look to work in partnership across both spheres of government, and with key stakeholders and partners, to understand how we can continue to progress our commitments to support those facing destitution in the future.
The Scottish Government and COSLA will continue to raise issues impacting people living in Scotland with UK Government in order that policy and legislation prevent, rather than create, destitution. We believe it is morally right that everyone in our communities has their human rights respected and can access support in times of need. We remain bold in our actions and ambitions, as we strive to create a fairer Scotland for everyone.
Great progress has been made in delivering the Ending Destitution Together strategy, and work is continuing in order that we maintain momentum as we move through the final year of delivery. Over the coming year we will look to learn from our experience of supporting those at risk of destitution through multiple crises and integrate the voices of those with lived experience of destitution through the establishment of a lived experience forum and ongoing engagement with the EDT expert advisory group. We will also look to identify how recent changes to the policy and legislative landscape will impact upon Scotland’s ongoing commitment to end destitution and propose next steps in this area.
As we move through the next year it remains important to work together to ensure Scotland is a warm and welcoming country and to deliver change for people who need our support. We must be bold in utilising the powers that are devolved to us, to ensure that people living in Scotland are able to seek support when they need it without fear, and regardless of their immigration status.
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