Ending homelessness action plan: annual report

Annual progress report detailing the progress being made in delivering the work outlined in the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan.

Progress towards meeting Action Plan commitments

Person-centred approach

To end homelessness, evidence and experts tell us that a truly person-centred approach is crucial. This is about understanding people’s experiences so we can improve our systems and responses. It is also about understanding a person’s journey so services can respond well in the moment to bring about an end to that person’s homelessness and find effective ways of supporting them in a settled home. Our commitment to listening and responding to people with lived experience and tackling stigma contribute directly to the Values set out in the National Performance Framework of treating all our people with kindness, dignity and compassion – and will be crucial to our aim of ending homelessness. 

Key to embedding a person-centred approach will be our work to developing better understanding of women’s experiences of homelessness. We have already begun exploring the available evidence and we will work through 2020 with partners with expertise in gender as well as partners in the homelessness sector to deepen our understanding of the issues facing women in homelessness.

1 Action – We will develop an Ending Homelessness Together lived experience programme.

Progress – The Scottish Government has worked with Homeless Network Scotland and Cyrenians to develop a Participation Programme to ensure that lived experience – and the voice of the frontline – have a central role in supporting the delivery of our Action Plan. A Change Team has been recruited and was officially launched on 10 December 2019 bringing together people with a background of lived experience of homelessness with those working on the frontline. To ensure they are at the heart of driving this programme of work it has been agreed this team will become a sub-group of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group (HPSG), and will act as a live reference group for HPSG and others to reality-check delivery and test ideas and priorities. The other key role the Change Team has is to support the transition envisaged through the Action Plan at a local level using their own wider networks and working alongside the Housing Options Hubs.

Next steps – The Change Team will work with and advise HPSG on the programme, ensuring people with lived experience are contributing directly, shaping policy development and overseeing the delivery of the Action Plan.

2 Action – In 2019 we will explore policy options on how personal housing plans will work alongside the Housing Options approach.

Progress – Drawing on their experience in this area, Shelter is exploring options and will produce a report in early 2020. This work will collate and consolidate evidence from across the UK to be used to develop a Personal Housing Plan model. This will build on the existing Housing Options approach as a key element of preventing and responding to homelessness.

Next steps – Following consideration of and consultation on options, the Scottish Government will incorporate a Personal Housing Plan model into the updated Code of Guidance, including practical advice. Partners will consider how to facilitate widespread implementation as a means of further embedding person-centred approaches to support people facing homelessness and ensuring a continued focus on getting people back to settled accommodation as quickly as possible.

3 Action – Where children are homeless, we will ensure a wellbeing assessment is undertaken in relation to each child in the household to make certain that any additional learning or social support is put in place. 

Progress – Learning from parts of the country where a similar approach is being taken is informing early thinking on how this will be taken forwards alongside the above work on personal housing plans. 

Next steps – We will work with children’s services, local authorities and partners, as well as people with lived experience, to establish how to best deliver these assessments and report on progress.

4 Action – In 2019 we will organise an event for local authorities and housing providers to share best practise and consider development of choice-based letting systems or other approaches across Scotland.

Progress – An event took place on 3 December 2019, bringing together local authorities, third sector partners and housing associations. The event supported partners to share ideas that have emerged via Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans, including how to ensure people are fully involved in planning their accommodation. The interactive breakout sessions allowed attendees to discuss common themes, arising issues and share good examples of projects and initiatives that aim to give homeless households greater choice and control.

Next steps – Through 2020-2023 the Scottish Government will continue to encourage the adoption and rollout of support, including for choice-based letting systems, formalising implementation advice into an updated Code of Guidance.

5 Action – Through 2019 we will work with expert practitioners, housing providers, local authorities and other public bodies to determine the actions needed to support frontline staff in their work with people experiencing homelessness.

Progress – The Participation Programme will be a key vehicle for this action. The Change Team, comprised of members with lived experience and those working on the frontline, will act as a key catalyst for local engagement and support across the homelessness sector. The Housing Options Toolkit is being developed in partnership across all 32 local authorities to provide consistent training to frontline staff on areas of housing, employability, health and wellbeing, and income and affordability.

Next steps – We will take the emerging learning from the work of the Change Team to inform proposals for a programme of further support, to be developed and supported by HPSG in partnership with the Change Team. 

6 Action - Evaluate impact of initial public awareness activity on public perceptions during 2019.

Progress – In 2019 a public perceptions collaborative was formed to coordinate efforts in challenging stigma and shifting public perceptions – both by helping homelessness organisations communicate effectively and by supporting media to understand its role in challenging stigma. Homelessness organisations are beginning to change their approach in communicating about homelessness and the Scottish Government is using its platform to highlight positive stories to help break the stigma.

Next steps – A style guidelines document is nearing completion and will be shared in early 2020. An event with leaders from the sector and members of the press will also take place to discuss the guidelines to help address stigma. 

Additional Action – We will ensure the actions we take to end homelessness are informed by a gendered analysis and will meet the specific needs of women experiencing homelessness.

Progress – Following engagement with a range of stakeholders the Scottish Government has developed a programme of work to integrate a gendered approach to the delivery of homelessness policy and practice. Details are set out through this Annual Report and in Annex 2.

Next steps – The Scottish Government will continue to work with key stakeholders including Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA), Engender and SAY Women to build understanding of what is needed, implement the programme of work and monitor its impact.

Prevent homelessness from happening in the first place 

We know homelessness is caused by a range of different challenges in people’s lives such as poverty, relationship breakdown, job loss, death or as a result of experiencing the crime of domestic abuse. We also know systemic issues like poverty, including child poverty, rising housing costs, UK Government welfare cuts and availability of health and social care support have a crucial role to play in whether or not a household reaches crisis point. There is much that the housing, homelessness and wider public services, can do to pick up issues early and act before a household reaches crisis point.

It is vital we build on progress over recent years to focus on the prevention of homelessness before it occurs and, when it does occur, prevent repeat homelessness. Our focus on prevention through delivery of the actions we have set out below demonstrates our commitment to addressing the links between housing and poverty and supporting children to grow up free from abuse, poverty and hunger (supporting delivery of the National Outcome: we grow up loved, safe and respected so we can realise our full potential).

7 Action – We will review the evidence whilst identifying the timetable and process for the design and implementation of preventative pathways for each high-risk group.

Progress – Evidence has been reviewed, timetables for this work have been agreed and the first pathway (for care experienced people) was published on 12 November 2019. Chairs for the working group developing the second (improving housing outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse) have been appointed, the scope of the work agreed and the remit is being drawn up. 

Next steps – A review of the implementation of the SHORE standards will commence in early 2020[10]These reviews will be locally based around the five Housing Options Hubs, and will include representation from local authorities, Scottish prisons, criminal justice, the police and the third sector. The review will examine current good practice, areas for further improvement and embedding national consistency throughout Scotland. The work on improving housing outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse will begin in February 2020 and we expect it to conclude by summer 2020. This will include how to put Domestic abuse: a good practice guide for social landlord on a statutory footing[11]. Through 2020-2023 the remaining prevention pathways will be scoped, developed and implemented.

8 Action – We will ensure a clear, effective focus on preventing and responding effectively to youth homelessness.

Progress – Recognising that younger people are more likely to make a homeless application than other groups of the population and are much more likely to have support needs relating to basic housing management and independent living, the ‘A Way Home Scotland’ coalition is leading development of the Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway.

Next steps – More detail on prevention of and effective response to youth homelessness, particularly for those who are care experienced, will come from the work of the ‘A Way Home Scotland’ coalition. We will actively respond to findings as they emerge and seek to implement the Pathway recommendations as soon as possible. A particular focus will be on supporting local partners to develop plans for response to youth homelessness through the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans.

"Eradicating homelessness in Scotland is happening right now, and it has been a privilege to both see and be part of the progress made so far. 

As part of the Action Plan, A Way Home Scotland has launched its first Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway for care leavers, a crucial piece of work that sets out practical and achievable steps toward ending homelessness for one of our most vulnerable groups.  

Working in partnership with the Scottish Government, local authorities and young people has been pivotal in progressing our work and only by continuing to do so we can drive forward our commitment to end youth homelessness in Scotland.

Sabrina Galella
Policy and Influencing Coordinator
'A Way Home Scotland'

9 Action - We will increase the focus on sustaining tenancies ensuring that support is available for those who need it. 

Progress – Building on the learning already gained in local areas about what works for tenancy sustainment and supporting people at risk of homelessness, the Scottish Government announced in the Programme for Government, a Homelessness Prevention Fund which will provide up to £1.5m over three years. The Scottish Federation Of Housing Associations (SFHA) and Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF) are supporting the development of this fund which will increase and spread the work of social landlords in supporting low income families in social housing in ways that help to prevent crisis points and avoid homelessness. Prevention and tenancy sustainment were key themes running through the day at the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) event on 3 December, with examples of different approaches being shared amongst attendees, including the innovative approaches to prevention and tenancy sustainment that have been adopted in Newcastle.

Next steps – This fund will be available from financial year 2020/21 and learning about the impact of innovative approaches will be a central consideration. We will also ensure that good practice is shared amongst Scottish local authorities and further afield. 

10 Action – We will work with local authorities to identify how to make homelessness assessments more flexible.

Progress – This work is being progressed by the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) and Scottish Federation Of Housing Associations (SFHA). 

Next steps – Further consideration of options will be taken forwards in 2020, recognising the important links to developing Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans; supporting partnerships between local authorities and registered social landlords and the early prevention of homelessness. 

11 Action – We will embed a ‘no-wrong-door’ approach. 

Progress – We have been working at local level and through our frontline practitioners network to understand how to best support local partnerships across local authorities, housing providers, prisons, care services, health services and the police to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping. At national level we undertook a cross-government response to the ‘Hard Edges’ report, which looked at the complexity of the lives of people facing multiple disadvantage in Scotland. We have brought together health, justice, housing and other policy areas to inform a government wide response and, as part of our aim to improve outcomes for those facing severe and multiple disadvantage, the Inclusive Scotland Fund was announced in Programme for Government in September 2019. It will be made available in 2020-21 and 2021-22 to support local areas in finding new ways to respond to the needs of those with severe and multiple disadvantage and experiences across homelessness, substance use, mental ill health and contact with the criminal justice system.

Next steps – We will continue to lead the cultural and systemic changes required to ensure local authorities, housing providers, delivery partners and public bodies work together to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping at every opportunity. This includes supporting the Inclusive Scotland Fund and the development of new legislation for the prevention of homelessness (see Action 14).

12 Action – We will ensure that homelessness prevention and existing homelessness are treated as key drivers in the development of the Beyond 2021 Housing Strategy.

Progress – Key principles set out in the Housing to 2040 Vision include ensuring there are affordable housing options across Scotland for households at all income levels and that everyone should have a right to an adequate home.

Next steps – In 2020-2021 the Scottish Government will continue to invest in housing supply as we work towards our target to provide 50,000 affordable homes during the lifetime of this Parliament. 

13 Action – We will undertake a full analysis of Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) recommendations on changes to the UK welfare system policy and delivery.

Progress – This analysis has been progressed by the Scottish Government with newly available data alongside the refresh of Housing & Social Security analysis (see here). This analysis includes Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) monthly survey of its members on the impact of Universal Credit (UC). SFHA reports that this has revealed a consistent pattern that the average level of arrears for tenants on UC is higher than for those tenants not on UC[12]. Though not a representative sample of all its members, the results of the January 2019 survey revealed that the total arrears for tenancies claiming UC was 37% of the total rent due for those tenancies in January 2019, compared to 21% for tenancies not claiming UC[13].

Next steps – The updated analysis is expected to be published in early 2020. We know issues around access to resources, including social security entitlements, particularly impact on women. We will work with colleagues working on housing, homelessness, child poverty, social security, employability and the gender pay gap action plan to progress a Scottish Government wide approach to this issue, including around splitting UC payments for couples and ensuring direct rent payment to landlords remain an option. These plans remain a priority for the Scottish Government and we will continue to press the UK Government to reverse the changes to the welfare system they have introduced that put people at risk of homelessness.

14 Action – We will set out a timetable for our plans for a new duty on public bodies for the prevention of homelessness.

Progress – In October 2019 a review group was established to consider options for a new prevention duty. The group is supported by Crisis Scotland who have developed a substantial programme of engagement and consultation to take this work forward and this is available on the Crisis website[14] along with minutes of each of the meetings. The group’s work will be supported through a linked group of people with lived experience of homelessness and those working on the frontline to support them, and will be informed by a gendered analysis. 

Next steps – The Prevention Duty Review Group will be informed by understanding and evidence of the particular issues faced by women, and their recommendations will be informed by gender-specific experiences of homelessness. 

Recommendations will be made by the Group to the Scottish Government in 2020.

Additional action - We will seek to adopt housing advice, Housing Options and housing management actions to avoid homelessness for women and families who have been victims of domestic abuse.

Progress – It was recently announced that legislation on emergency barring orders to exclude the perpetrators of domestic abuse from the home will be taken forward in year five of this parliament. The lead for this work sits in the Justice portfolio, and Ministers and officials in Communities and Local Government are committed to working actively with Justice colleagues to take this forward and see it is implemented effectively.

Next steps – The publication in the summer of guidance for social landlords on responding to domestic abuse takes us considerably further forward in what practical steps are needed to safeguard vulnerable women and children. We will work with the Chartered Institute of Housing, SWA and others to ensure the relevant
actions are progressed.

Additional action – SHORE Implementation Review

Progress – The Scottish Government is progressing a review of the implementation of the SHORE standards as part of its wider work on prevention pathways. A first meeting took place on 27 August 2019, gathering national and local partners to discuss the proposed approach.

Next steps – The intention is to run locally based reviews based around the five Housing Options Hub areas early in 2020. The reviews will draw in key local partners, including those with lived experience, to understand the on the ground issues they are facing and seeking to identify interventions which will unlock the consistent, effective delivery of SHORE across Scotland.

Additional action - Homelessness Prevention Fund

Progress – The Scottish Government committed within the Programme for Government to introduce a Homelessness Prevention Fund. It will provide £1.5 million over three years to increase and spread the work of social landlords in supporting low-income families in social housing to prevent crisis points and avoid homelessness.

Next steps – The funding is being jointly provided from the Ending Homelessness Together Fund and the Child Poverty Fund. The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations agreed at the September 2019 meeting of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group to develop proposals for Ministers to consider on the best way to target this funding. It has been working together with a range of partners to draw up options in advance of its introduction in financial year 2020-21.

Prioritising settled housing for all 

As highlighted in our Action Plan, homelessness is about so much more than housing. Having a settled home must be seen as a priority for supporting people to live their life with good health, wellbeing and a sense of community and belonging. Our commitments set out below to embed a housing-led response to homelessness contribute to delivering National Outcome: we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.  

15 Action – Every local authority will submit a Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) by the end of 2018, to be finalised – including an equality impact assessment – by March 2019.

Progress – All local authorities submitted Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans by 31 December 2018. All plans were reviewed by the Scottish Government and feedback given by 31 March 2019. Second iterations were provided in summer 2019 with feedback given to 30 local authorities on 13 September.  At present 24 of the 32 local authorities have submitted Equality Impact Assessments with their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan. 

Next steps – Focused work will continue to better understand the funding requirements of the new approaches set out in the plans alongside work in partnership between local and national government to achieve effective implementation and transition from current arrangements, within combined available resources. The Scottish Government will request annual review of Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans. Monitoring frameworks on progress and spend will be agreed between local and national government. The Scottish Government will provide support to all local authorities who have not yet developed an Equality Impact Assessment to ensure their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan sets out how it will advance equality and reduce discrimination for groups with protected characteristics. 

In response to our understanding that women do not have equal access to statutory services, we will also use the next phase of RRTP development to proactively work with local authorities. We will encourage them to take a gendered approach to their homelessness plans and respond to the needs of women in homelessness in their area in accordance with their findings. As with other areas of RRTP development, this could include support, peer mentoring and sharing good practice. Over time, this should develop in response to findings emerging from the work to improve our understanding of women’s experiences of homelessness. 

16 Action – By April 2019, all 32 LA RRTPs will be evaluated and feedback will be provided to local areas.

Progress – We have established a Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans sub-group of the HPSG. It includes local authorities, ALACHO, COSLA, Homeless Network Scotland, Housing Support Enabling Unit, Scotland’s Housing Network and others to oversee the development of rapid rehousing. It will also develop a basket of ideas so that learning can be shared between local authorities.

Next steps – The Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans Sub-group of the HPSG will lead work to develop and share ideas and learning between local areas in partnership with Housing Options Hubs, including facilitation of an event for RRTP local coordinators in early 2020.

17 Action – Each local authority RRTP will include plans for Housing First provision.

Progress – 30 of 32 local areas include plans for Housing First provision within their RRTP. We are working with Homeless Network Scotland and local authorities to develop monitoring frameworks around Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans in the non-Pathfinder areas.

Next steps – Develop a monitoring framework for Housing First across Scotland and ensure the learning is shared between Pathfinder and non-Pathfinder local authorities who already had Housing First prior to HARSAG recommendations. 

18 Action – We will support five Housing First Pathfinder cities: to secure up to 830 Housing First Placements between December 2018 and March 2022.

Progress – Ongoing as part of the Pathfinder Programme. As at the end of November 2019 – more than 150 people were in Housing First Pathfinder tenancies, with a 95% sustainment rate, and no evictions or abandonments at that time.

Next steps – We will continue to support Housing First in the Pathfinder areas, engage in the Connect events (bringing all five pathfinder areas together to share experiences). Focus will shift to secure mainstreaming of Housing First funding from local authority budgets and contributions from other local partners so there is no “cliff-edge” at the end of Scottish Government, Social Bite and Merchant’s House funding. We will support the Housing First Training Academy, which is supporting the Housing First Pathfinder, programme to include training on gender inequality. We will ensure this training is made more widely available as Housing First develops throughout all areas of Scotland. 

19 Action – We will seek partnership with health and justice bodies as we embed a Housing First approach for people with multiple and complex needs.

Progress – Joint investment between Health and Homelessness in support of the Housing First Pathfinder programme is now being strengthened through the response to Hard Edges and Health and Homelessness Data Linkage. A letter sent jointly from the Minister for Housing Local Government and Planning and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to local partners in 2019 highlighted the importance of joint working in support of delivering RRTPs and preventing and tackling homelessness.

Next steps – We will seek to work in partnership with local NHS bodies to plan services in a way that can meet the total needs of the people in their local population who are experiencing homelessness; substance use; mental ill health; domestic abuse and involvement in the justice system (i.e. the Hard Edges cohort). This includes the provision of health and justice services through the Housing First model. 

20 Action – We will highlight best practice examples (of developing a wider range of choice in what a settled home could look like) from RRTPs.

Progress – Throughout the year we have made use of the regular meetings of Housing Options Hubs and other events and conferences to share emerging practice and ideas regarding choice in a settled home. An event was held on 3 December which was attended by 150 delegates, including local authorities, third sector and advocating organisations. This event allowed attendees the opportunity to share ideas from Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans via presentations, interactive breakout sessions and panel discussions.    

Next steps – This will continue to be a core part of the activity outlined above to share learning and emerging practice and ideas from RRTP.

21 Action – We will assess the impacts of providing a wide range of options in different local authority areas. 

Progress – An event held on 3 December brought together local authorities, third sector and housing associations to share a range of ideas that have emerged via Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and through other mechanisms, including discussion of understanding the impact of the changes being implemented.

Next steps – This will continue to be a core part of the activity outlined above to share learning and emerging practice and ideas from RRTP.

22 Action – We will undertake robust analysis of data on the funding of temporary accommodation to inform our position on a new funding framework: this will support discussions between national and local government in Scotland and the UK.

Progress – While this analysis has been undertaken, it has not been possible to draw robust conclusions that could be applied across local authority boundaries to inform a national picture of temporary accommodation funding. At the same time, discussions with the UK Government about modifying existing funding through Housing Benefit have not been fruitful, amid continued uncertainty about Department for Work and Pensions and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spending priorities.

Next steps – The Scottish Government has pursued early engagement with the new UK Government with the aim of, by November 2021, having developed and implemented changes to the existing funding model to tackle poverty by lowering rents in Temporary Accommodation. Through 2022-23 the Scottish Government will aim to evaluate the impacts of the revised model to adjust and refine accordingly. 

Additional action – Third Sector Bid Fund

Progress – The Scottish Government committed in the Programme for Government to support the transformational change set out in the Ending Homelessness Together High Level Action Plan. Funding of up to £4.5 million will be provided over three years to third sector organisations on the frontline to innovate and transform the services they provide.

Next steps – Applications to the fund will open in early 2020 with funding available from financial year 2020-21. Applicants will need to be able to demonstrate the work they are doing will support transformational change. They will need to show clear alignment with actions and outcomes set out in the Action Plan or engagement and tie-in with local authority Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans.

Applicants to the bid fund will be required to assess the equality impact of their proposals and will need to demonstrate alignment with outcomes and 49 actions identified in the Action Plan. We will also invite applications which ensure a clear, effective focus on preventing and responding effectively to homelessness amongst women.

We will respond quickly and effectively when homelessness happens

An effective response is crucial to safeguard people and prevent a worsening of the issues which led to homelessness in the first place. Understanding the circumstances which led to experiences of homelessness is crucial so we can support frontline services to perform their vital role effectively. Recently released Scottish Government statistics on how equality groups experiences of homelessness differ is a key part of building our understanding and supporting delivery of the National Outcome: we respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination. 

23 Action – We will support frontline practitioners to develop and implement a national model of empowered frontline outreach throughout 2019 and 2020.

Progress – Early discussions with stakeholders took place in June 2019; key messages emerging from this focused around empowering staff, prioritising relationships, and supporting the creation of a person-centred system. Additional action across wider government includes national roll out of trauma informed training which is significant for this action. It is clear an effective response to people facing homelessness needs to respond well to multiple and complex needs across health, justice and housing. As such the work we are doing to build partnerships in these areas provides important context to develop the national model envisaged.

Next steps – How issues present at the frontline is contributing to emerging responses to the Hard Edges Scotland report, considering what an appropriate frontline response looks like for people with severe and multiple disadvantage, including diverse groups of women. We will continue to engage in this work to support our principle of no wrong door and person-centred services, integrating learning and approaches from homelessness with other public services and vice versa. A key point of action for the year ahead will be the launching of the Inclusion Scotland Fund, ensuring that homelessness considerations are a key focus. We know relationships formed at the frontline are key and the frontline needs support and training to particularly reflect gender inequality and the needs of women. We will work with stakeholders to ensure the training and support being developed as part of our programme to support and empower frontline services is gender sensitive.

24 Action – We will develop training and support for staff working across the wider frontline.

Progress – The Scottish Government is working closely with the five Housing Options Hubs on the development of the Housing Options Toolkit.  Development of the toolkit has been procured and the development of modules has commenced, bringing in support from other area experts where necessary to provide support across the Scottish Government.

Next steps – Delivery of the Housing Options Toolkit for staff training across housing and frontline delivery staff will be a continued focus through 2020. In addition, we will consider the wider training and support needs of staff through our partnership with the newly appointed Change Team for the participation programme.

25 Action – We will continue to support local winter planning in 2018-19, learning from experiences in 2017-18, and with the aim of responding to immediate years and seeing a decline in need for next year (2019-20) as our wider changes start to take effect.

Progress – Winter 2018-19 plans were put in place, implemented and funded. Learning from previous years has contributed to Scottish Government’s announcement of funding for winter 2019-20, which includes further spending on flexible emergency funding for the frontline, support for a multi-agency hub for people at risk of rough sleeping in Glasgow, and projects to support people who have no recourse to public funds. A number of interventions put in place in previous years have since been adopted into local authorities’ mainstream plans for response to people at risk of sleeping rough all year round. 

Next steps – From 2020-21, funding for local winter planning will be more fully aligned with third sector funding in support of delivering the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan through the third sector bid fund which will be launched in early 2020.

26 Action – We will explore ways of providing effective support to people engaged in street begging. 

Progress – This is being considered as part of the frontline outreach group and winter planning. As part of our frontline outreach strategic priorities we are:

  • Exploring the drivers behind street begging, including mental health and addictions and their connection to social isolation and the importance of community.
  • Exploring the links between street begging, human trafficking and organised crime.

Next steps – This will continue to be progressed as part of frontline outreach model and participation programme.

27 Action – We will continue to press the UK Government to address issues relating to migrant homelessness.

Progress – This is an ongoing discussion point with the UK Government, gaining particular prominence in the context of evictions of people who have exhausted their rights of appeal in the immigration system. The Scottish Government has frequently urged the UK Government to take a different approach however as it is a reserved matter our ability to influence is limited.

Next steps – We will continue to have discussions with the UK Government in relation to this issue and report our progress in future reports. We will further develop our response for people with no recourse to public funds, establishing clarity around what can already be offered and what works for people within the existing legal framework. 

28 Action – We will continue to explore what measures can be put in place to prevent rough sleeping and homelessness for those without recourse to public funds.

Progress – An anti-destitution strategy is in development and this issue has been considered as part of planning for winter that was undertaken by our frontline practitioner working group. The Scottish Government is engaging with the Glasgow Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers regarding its project funded by the Big Lottery to create a strategic accommodation pathway for destitute asylum seekers, and supporting an action focused collaboration across Glasgow to respond to the eviction without destination of asylum seekers who are designated by the Home Office as having exhausted their appeal rights. We continue to press the UK Government to act on this issue to prevent risk to life for this population. 

For those who have insecure immigration status but are not in the asylum system, we have developed a number of small interventions as part of the winter plans. These will test approaches with frontline services and establish what can be done within the existing legislative framework. We are also facilitating discussions with third sector partners to consider a strategic approach. This will include supporting the third sector to provide information in other languages, initiating a peer support worker model, holding a practitioner roundtable on successful approaches and supporting work with City of Edinburgh Council around a symposium on the issue. 

In the winter 2019-20 the Scottish Government provided a £252,000 funding package over two years to organisations to help ensure asylum seekers have access to legal professionals and other services.

Next steps – Completion of the anti-destitution strategy in 2020 and further work across the sector to prevent rough sleeping and homelessness among this population, including in response to the Serco lock change evictions, and seeking to prevent people reaching this crisis point. 

29 Action – We will continue to work with the UK Government to clarify the protection to be afforded to those without recourse to public funds.

Progress – In February 2019, the Scottish Government and COSLA launched updated Scottish guidance relating to no recourse to public funds (NRPF). The guidance sets out the legal position for local authorities to assist them in making make decisions on provision of support, with due attention to their duties under devolved legislation and in respect of human rights.  The Scottish Government has committed to regular review of the guidance to ensure it remains up to date.

The Scottish Government has raised concerns with the UK Government about a number of issues impacting people living in Scotland because of no recourse to public funds policy. The Scottish Government is also providing £252,000 for advocacy support and legal advice access, which will support people at risk of eviction from asylum accommodation in Glasgow.

Next steps – Development of the new guidance was a first step toward an anti-destitution strategy, focusing on people who are subject to NRPF. The Scottish Government and COSLA are working in partnership to develop the anti-destitution strategy, which will aim to prevent and mitigate destitution for people, as far as it is possible to do so within the restrictions of reserved UK immigration law and policy. The Scottish Government will continue to press the UK Government to protect the rights of people who are subject to NRPF.  

30 Action – We will support local areas to develop a broader range of options for accommodation in crisis situations, including the development of community hosting.

Progress – The Scottish Government held an event in December 2019 which local authorities, housing providers, third sector and advocating organisations attended. At this event, the Rock Trust delivered a presentation which encouraged attendees to look at community hosting models. 

Next steps – We will continue to support local areas following this event and we will produce a report from the day to highlights common themes and examples of good practice discussed and share with all participants.

31 Action – We will facilitate sharing of information during 2019 about how short-term community hosting can broaden options within local area and provide support to local authorities.

Progress – The December event (above) brought together a wide range of stakeholders who heard from the Rock Trust about community hosting. Everyone was given the opportunity through breakout sessions to share ideas from RRTPs about how they are looking to diversify temporary and permanent accommodation options. 

Next steps – Through 2020-2021 the Scottish Government will respond to this early work to explore best options to support the adoption and expansion of Nightstop throughout Scotland.

32 Action – We will publish an options appraisal for a new national rough sleeping data collection in 2019.

Progress – The Scottish Government commissioned the Centre for Homelessness Impact in 2018 to undertake an options appraisal for the development of a new national data collection system. The options appraisal was published in May 2019. 

Next steps – The Scottish Government will conduct a programme of engagement with local authorities and third sector organisations in 2020 to support development of a new data collection system, with the aim of starting a pilot by the end of 2020. An important aspect of the development of the data collection will be a review of the homelessness data collection questions. We need to ensure we are collecting the information we need in order to understand the issues facing the diverse range of people experiencing homelessness, with a particular focus on understanding women’s experiences, and monitor the impact of any changes. The work to review data requirements, gaps and possible sources will start early in 2020. 

33 Action – We will revise legislative arrangements on local connection and intentionality.

Progress – The Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2019 was commenced on 7 November 2019, introducing discretion for local authorities in assessing homelessness applications for intentionality. It also started a process for developing new local connection rules, which will involve development work and a public consultation in 2020. 

Next steps – In 2020 the Scottish Government will engage with local authorities, other organisations and people with lived experience to develop the local connection Ministerial Statement which will be published in November 2020. This will specify Ministers’ plans for local connection legislation.  

34 Action – We will work with lawyers and stakeholders to develop options for the definition of intentionality to focus on deliberate manipulation of the homelessness system.

Progress – The Scottish Government’s consultation on local connection and intentionality included a question about whether people thought the definition of intentionality should be narrowed to focus on deliberate manipulation. There was limited consensus among respondents about this question, with some support and also calls for careful consideration of any possible changes and new guidance.

Next steps – The Scottish Government will continue to engage with lawyers about the mechanisms available to take this forward. The overhaul of the Code of Guidance, detailed below, will also involve consideration of this commitment. 

35 Action – We will consult on extending the Unsuitable Accommodation Order to all homeless households.

Progress – A consultation was held in summer 2019 that closed on 14 August with a full analysis of the responses published in January 2020. Based on initial analysis, we committed in the Programme for Government to introduce legislation to extend the Order this parliamentary year, to come into force this parliamentary term, by May 2021.

Next steps – Now we have committed to extending the Unsuitable Accommodation Order (UAO) to all homeless households, as we prepare the new legislation, we will work with local authorities right up until the legislation comes into force to help them overcome any barriers they face and to ensure they don’t breach the Order. Part of that role will be to learn from good practices in the sector and share these amongst local authorities - and where possible reflecting these as we draft the legislation.

36 Action – We will introduce the means to enforce and monitor standards for temporary accommodation in all tenures. We will publish and implement new standards by 2023.

Progress – The Scottish Government has included advisory standards in the 2019 Code of Guidance update, based on standards previously published by Shelter and CIH, and consulted on the development of a legally enforceable standards framework. 

Next steps – A working group will be set up in early 2020 to take forward the findings of the consultation; develop a new standards framework across all types and tenures of temporary accommodation and determine ways in which these standards can be progressed as a legally enforceable framework.

Additional action – Glasgow voluntary review

Progress – Glasgow City Council Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) agreed to a voluntary review with the Scottish Government focusing on its failure to provide temporary accommodation to homeless people. The HSCP and Scottish Government are working very closely on this and overseeing improvements that are being made.

The Housing Minister met with Glasgow City Council’s Leader and CEO in October to reinforce the progress that is needed to ensure Glasgow meets its statutory responsibilities to homeless people. Work is also taking place with other local authorities to understand the issues around recording this part of a local authority’s duties.

Next steps – The Scottish Government will continue this work addressing Glasgow’s failure to accommodate homeless people.

We will join up planning and resources  

Joining up planning and resources is vital to ensure we respond better to the range of causes of homelessness and the range of support needs people in homelessness may have. This will also support our National Performance Framework vision of eradicating poverty in Scotland. The Fairer Scotland Action Plan[15] and the Child Poverty Delivery Plan[16] both recognise the importance of addressing links between income, housing and health as well as understanding the specific needs of groups at higher risk of poverty and homelessness. 

37 Action – We will ensure local authorities, housing providers and public bodies work together to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping at every opportunity.

Progress – The Scottish Government established the Preventing Homelessness: Registered Social Landlords fund which will drive and support action in this area. Prevention also forms an important element of all local authority Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans which will be monitored with learning and progress shared.

Next steps – We will be supporting successful delivery of the Registered Social Landlords fund and monitoring prevention outcomes in Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans. We will also be using the work to develop proposals for a public sector duty for the prevention of homelessness, outlined above, to highlight the opportunities for better joint working to achieve better outcomes for citizens.

38 Action – Following consultation and development with partners, we will publish a new, accurate and up to date version of the Code of Guidance reflecting the current legislation and setting out a clear process for future updating of the Code. 

Progress – The Scottish Government worked with key partners to develop an updated and accurate Code of Guidance which was published on 7 November 2019. 

Next steps – The Scottish Government will develop and take forward plans for a more significant update to the structure and content of the Code, to be progressed in 2020. This work will include development of a process to make regular updates when legislative and policy changes are introduced. The initial new version of the Code is expected during 2021.

39 Action – We will commence engagement in 2019-20 with stakeholders regarding the possible development of a Code of Practice addendum for the Code of Guidance.

Progress – This will be considered during the development work on the Code of Guidance.  

Next steps – The Scottish Government will confirm its planned approach to take this forward by 2021.

40 Action – We will embed homelessness as a priority for improving public health, with all areas prioritising it as such. 

Progress – Discussions are underway across the Scottish Government and external agencies to raise awareness of homelessness as a public health priority ahead of the formation of the new Public Health Scotland body in April 2020.

Next steps – We will continue discussions, including with the new Public Health Body, and provide further updates in future reports.

41 Action – We will improve the join up between local health, social care, housing and homelessness planning.

Progress – On 29 March 2019, a Joint Ministerial letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning was sent to Local Authorities and Health & Social Care Partners encouraging collaboration on Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans in March 2019.  In addition, a range of cross-government and cross sectoral work has taken place in response to the publication of the Hard Edges Scotland research. A process of awareness raising of the Health and Homelessness data linkage has started to increase understanding of the shared interests different parts of the public sector have in meeting the needs of people with health and housing need. 

Next steps – This is ongoing. We will continue to work to ensure all parties are taking a joined-up approach and ensure that services, partnerships and systems across the NHS recognise that experiencing housing crisis is often a symptom of wider needs and act in partnership to resolve it. This will include identifying opportunities to increase awareness of the data available on health and homelessness and the Hard Edges Scotland research with key parts of the health system. It will also include sharing health and homelessness partnership examples as identified in RRTPs and providing examples of existing practice, including a focus on prevention. 

42 Action – We will join up housing employment and employability support.  

Progress – This will take place in future years once other elements of the Action Plan have progressed or completed.

Next steps – We will provide an update in future reports.

Additional action – Throughout 2019 we will work with local authorities and delivery partners to review and support the implementation process; assist with changes required to system and culture and work with partners to share learning

Progress – Ongoing as a core, continuing part of Scottish Government day to day work. This has been done through the development of the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and the ongoing support of the housing options hubs with Scottish Government officials in attendance at each meeting.

Next steps – Continue to support the work around Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and the housing options hubs.

Additional action – Cohesive cross-government response to the Hard Edges Scotland report findings

Progress – The Hard Edges Scotland report was published in July 2019 involving a partnership between Lankelly Chase Foundation, Robertson Trust and Heriot Watt University. It outlines the extent of severe and multiple disadvantage (SMD) in Scotland, providing both quantitative and qualitative evidence on the numbers of people experiencing more than one challenging issue in their lives. It includes around 5,600 people that experience all three of homelessness, substance use and the justice system in the course of a year.

Next steps – Scottish Ministers have called for a cohesive, cross-government response to these issues. Tackling and preventing homelessness is central to improving outcomes for those facing SMD. A cross portfolio group of Scottish Government officials from homelessness, health, justice and a range of other policy areas are working to develop further proposals in this area, with plans for input from stakeholders and those with lived experience. The Scottish Government’s response to Hard Edges Scotland has helped influence the establishment of the Inclusive Scotland Fund, announced in Programme for Government, which will provide financial support to local areas in addressing SMD.

Additional action – Support the homelessness system to respond more appropriately to the shared needs of mothers and children

We will work with colleagues in Children and Families and in Health Improvement to identify how local authorities can respond better to mothers and children and incorporate this in:

a) the work on RRTP set out above; 

b) the emerging work to support and empower the frontline including through psychologically-informed approaches; 

c) ensuring the experiences of women facing severe and multiple disadvantage are reflected in the work emerging from Hard Edges – in particular considering the needs of women who have had multiple children removed and/or are at risk and more broadly seeking to understand whether the ways in which severe and multiple disadvantage impacts differently on women. 

Other actions 

43 Action – We will summarise data available for people with the range of protected characteristics who are experiencing homelessness in 2019.

Progress – The Scottish Government published data relating to people with protected characteristics experiencing homelessness in November 2019. 

Next steps – The Scottish Government intends to publish updates to this analysis through the homelessness statistics in future years, starting June in 2020. This will help build understanding of the experiences of all groups with protected characteristics. 

44 Action – We will conduct impact assessments.

Progress – The Scottish Government is conducting equality impact assessments as required, including for the Unsuitable Accommodation Order and the modification of local connection legislation. Local authorities are being encouraged and supported to include equality impact assessments in their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and the November publication of the Equality Homelessness Statistics will help build understanding and knowledge in this area. 

Next steps – The Scottish Government will continue to conduct equality impact assessments and build understanding of the interactions between protected characteristics and homelessness, especially the Participation Programme, prevention pathways, rapid rehousing and housing first. 

45 Action – We will collect data about protected characteristics through the homelessness data collections.

Progress – The Scottish Government is exploring options for updating the homelessness data collections to include questions on more of the protected characteristics. 

Next steps – This will be on the agenda of the next homelessness statistics user group meeting in early 2020, led by the Scottish Government to support local authority statisticians. The meeting will seek to share good local authority practice and encourage change of practice at a local as well as national level. This will include building understanding of experiences of women with other protected characteristics.  

46 Action – We will ensure Scottish Government data collections reflect the increased priority of tackling homelessness.

Progress – The Scottish Government has held initial discussions about questions previously asked in the Scottish Household Survey.

Next steps – We will fully explore the benefits and drawbacks of adding homelessness questions to existing national surveys.

47 Action – We will develop the evidence base as we take forward the actions set out in the Action Plan.

Progress – References have been made throughout the Annual Report to specific areas in which we are improving our evidence base. 

Next steps – We will continue to work with partners across the public and voluntary sector to seek to understand the impact of the significant changes being made, for people experiencing homelessness and for the services that support them. 

48 Action - Using our current homelessness data collections and the analysis set out above we will report annually to the Scottish Parliament on our progress towards delivering the actions and outcomes.

Progress – We made a commitment to report annually to Parliament on progress towards delivering the 2018 Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan. The progress made in the first year demonstrates the commitment and ambition of all partners involved with 39 of the 49 actions have been progressed. 

Next steps – We intend to publish the next annual report in February 2021 so that it can report on the most up to date statistics which will be published in January 2021.

49 Action - we will undertake an analysis of the economic impacts of the actions set out in this plan

Progress – Initial discussions have taken place and we are considering opportunities to better understand the economic impacts with analytical colleagues.  

Next steps – The Scottish Government will draw on available evidence to seek to understand the economic impact of the actions being implemented.  


Email: Ruth.Whatling@gov.scot

Back to top