Ending Homelessness Together: annual report 2021
Annual report setting out the progress made in the last 12 months by national government, local government and third sector partners against actions in the Ending Homelessness Together action plan.
Progress against actions in theme 4: we will respond quickly and effectively whenever homelessness happens
We have made steady progress against the outstanding actions in this section. Seven actions are well underway; and work has started on the remaining six.
We said we would work with local authorities and other partners to provide access to safe and self-contained accommodation during the pandemic.
- National and local government and third sector partners have continued to respond rapidly to accommodate people experiencing homelessness, including people sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough and those with no recourse to public funds.
- The provision of hotel accommodation with private bathroom facilities has contributed to people feeling safer and more valued.
- A multi-agency on-site service in the rapid rehousing welcome centres means the right support has been focused around the individual and their needs.
- We have seen positive work to assess and respond to mental health and drug and alcohol addiction needs and to consider the specific needs of women.
- There has been a concerted effort to move people with low support needs on to settled accommodation more rapidly.
- In June 2021, the Scottish Government published Scotland's homelessness statistics covering the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. Of the 22,967 unintentionally homelessness cases that closed in 2020/21 (where contact was maintained and the outcome was known), 80% (18,313) secured settled accommodation as their outcome.
"From the end of March 2020 to the end of March 2021, we ensured that every individual seeking emergency accommodation, including people who were rough sleeping and those with no recourse to public funds, was offered safe emergency accommodation. During this period, we received 12,530 requests for emergency accommodation." Homelessness service manager, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership
We said we would share summaries of the audits of the numbers and needs of people in emergency accommodation with the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group.
- COSLA will provide an update on the numbers and needs of people in emergency accommodation at the next meeting of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group.
We said we would support local authorities and health and social care partners with their efforts to provide appropriate move on support and stable accommodation for all those currently in emergency accommodation.
- Scottish Government officials continue to meet regularly with senior officers in Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils to discuss progress with move on from emergency accommodation. Progress in other local authority areas is shared at the monthly housing options hubs meetings.
- Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership is piloting a matching process with the Wheatley Group and three community-based registered social landlords in the Govan area of Glasgow, where homeless households are matched with empty properties based on their housing need. This has resulted in accommodation being offered more quickly to homeless households and fewer refusals of accommodation.
- Between April and August 2021, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership worked with Wheatley Care to help all 57 residents of the Bellgrove Hotel move into more settled accommodation, including mainstream tenancies with support. This followed Wheatley Group's acquisition of the Bellgrove Hotel in April 2021.
- Local authorities have reported on progress with implementation of their rapid rehousing transition plans, including efforts to reduce the use of temporary accommodation, in their activity and spend templates, which were submitted at the end of June 2021.
We said that we would support local winter planning, including efforts by partners to modify existing night shelter provision in Edinburgh and Glasgow in winter 2020/21 and actively end the use of night shelter and dormitory-style provision in future.
The Scottish Government provided a contribution of £276,000 towards the establishment of two new rapid rehousing welcome centres. The centres are part of our plan to end the use of night shelters entirely by expanding rapid rehousing approaches such as Housing First. They provide short-term emergency accommodation for people who have no other options during the coldest months of the year, but the aim is to support people to move on to more settled accommodation. In Edinburgh, the centre operated from 5 October 2020 to 3 May 2021; in Glasgow, the centre operated from 1 December 2020 until 31 March 2021.
People using the centres were offered health and social care support as well as assistance with legal, immigration and employment matters. Although our overall ambition is to transition away from these centres in future, we recognise that there may always be a need for a small amount of emergency or rapid access accommodation.
Guest: 33 year old woman
Length of stay: nine nights
Presenting needs: fleeing extremely abusive partner, traumatised and had nothing.
Support provided: provisional homelessness assessment with Bethany link worker, supported to report abuse to police, emotional support, crisis grant referral, support to access bank account, referral to advice shop.
Outcome: moved to supported accommodation for women at risk of harm. Case study from Edinburgh's rapid rehousing welcome centre, reproduced with kind permission from Bethany Christian Trust
To complement this work, as part of our winter plan for social protection, the Scottish Government provided £100,000 to third sector organisations for personalised budgets and essential household items for people experiencing homelessness.
- We ensured that night shelters remained closed in winter 2020/21 by contributing to the costs of rapid rehousing welcome centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The centres provided people at risk of rough sleeping with short-term hotel accommodation with private bathroom facilities, alongside housing and welfare support.
- In winter 2020/21, the Scottish Government awarded £50,000 to five frontline homelessness organisations providing services in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Fife, Dundee and Perth and Kinross so that staff could provide people experiencing homelessness or rough sleeping with cash payments to meet immediate needs. The flexibility of the scheme was welcomed by frontline services.
- Recognising that the pandemic meant a longer stay in temporary accommodation for some households, the Scottish Government awarded £50,000 to Homeless Network Scotland for the winter warmer project to provide 1,000 people in temporary accommodation with £50 each in the form of a bank transfer or retail vouchers.
- The commitment to ensure that there is no return to dormitory style night shelters in the future has been restated in the programme for government 2021/22 and the Scottish Government will contribute to the costs of the rapid rehousing welcome centres in winter 2021/22.
We said we would develop a model of frontline outreach, which is linked to our commitments to train and support frontline staff in their work with people experiencing homelessness. We also said we would support people engaged in street begging.
Scottish Government officials have continued to engage regularly with representatives from frontline homelessness organisations across Scotland, to ensure they have the tools and the latest information to support people at risk of or already experiencing rough sleeping.
Scotland does not have a reliable method of counting people who are sleeping rough. We evaluate the extent of rough sleeping by asking street outreach teams to carry out an informal count of people sleeping rough in the areas where it is concentrated. We reported in our Ending homelessness together action plan in October 2020 that we had seen a dramatic reduction in the number of people sleeping rough. Outreach teams report that while figures do fluctuate, the overall number remains low. Our challenge is to maintain this downward trend.
Street begging tends to take place in areas of high footfall. Levels of street begging fell in the last year, partly due to the considerable efforts by partners to engage with everyone at risk of sleeping rough and partly due to the impact of nationwide lockdowns. However, there are signs that they are increasing again. We will continue to explore the reasons why people beg and the role that mental health and addiction problems can play.
Our focus during the pandemic has been on protecting those experiencing the most acute forms of homelessness, which has delayed progress with our plans to develop a model of frontline outreach. An initial workshop to identify a delivery model took place in June 2021 and we intend to build on this momentum in the year ahead.
The housing options hubs are continuing with work to develop a training toolkit made of six modules covering the knowledge and skills involved in delivering housing options services. The toolkit is an example of long-term co-production that brings together all 32 Scottish local authorities and involves subject matter experts, including Scottish Women's Aid. It is designed to support frontline staff in their work with people experiencing homelessness.
- The number of people sleeping rough – in the areas where rough sleeping is concentrated in Scotland – remains low.
- Scottish Government officials worked with frontline staff to ensure that people who were sleeping rough, in emergency accommodation and in supported accommodation were included in a priority group for the coronavirus vaccine (more details are provided later in the document).
- The First Minister announced in November 2020 that health and social care staff on the frontline, including frontline homelessness staff, would receive a one-off £500 payment to recognise the extraordinary effort they have made during the pandemic.
- We have extended the National Trauma Training Programme for a further two years, to 2023, to facilitate a trauma-informed workforce and services.
- Aurion Learning is launching the first three modules (introduction to housing options; accessing accommodation; and maintaining existing accommodation) of the housing options training toolkit at the end of January 2022. The second set of modules (health and wellbeing; income and affordability; and employment and training) are due to be launched later in 2022.
- We will have further stakeholder workshops in the year ahead so we can regain momentum with the development of a model of frontline outreach.
We said we would prevent homelessness for those with no recourse to public funds. As part of this work, we said we would press the UK Government on migrant homelessness; form alliances with other devolved nations and cities; work with the Everyone Home Collective so that the route map to end destitution informs our anti-destitution strategy; explore alternative routes through which to provide accommodation to people with no recourse to public funds; and extend funding for projects that provide advocacy and legal advice to destitute asylum seekers and people with no recourse to public funds.
- National and local governments have continued to provide accommodation and funding for essential items for people with no recourse to public funds to protect them and reduce the spread of the virus.
- In November 2020, the Scottish Government made £278,784 available to six organisations supporting people with no recourse to public funds in Edinburgh and Glasgow. This funded the provision of food, clothing, essential travel and digital access.
- As part of our winter plan for social protection, the Scottish Government awarded £33,392 to Turning Point Scotland to provide people with no recourse to public funds with accommodation, advice and advocacy services in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
- In February 2021, the Scottish Government awarded awarded Homeless Network Scotland £24,000 to develop the proposals in the Everyone Home Collective route map to end destitution and design a new gateway to a safe destination for people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF). The NRPF gateway was developed in collaboration with the Scottish Government, COSLA and the third sector.
- In March 2021, the Scottish Government and COSLA published Ending destitution together, a strategy to improve support for people with no recourse to public funds living in Scotland. This was informed by the Everyone Home Collective's route map. The Scottish Government is making an initial investment of £500,000 to support delivery of the actions in the first year of the strategy.
- Scottish Government officials have established a regular four nations meeting to share thinking and good practice with UK counterparts on policies to support people with no recourse to public funds at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping.
- Scottish ministers have continued to press UK ministers to reverse policies that contribute to migrant homelessness:
- Ben Macpherson MSP, formerly Scotland's Minister for Public Finance and Migration, wrote to Kevin Foster MP, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, in November 2020 to express his concern at the new grounds for refusal included in the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules and the impact this has on efforts to end homelessness in Scotland.
- In March 2021, Kevin Stewart MSP, Scotland's former Minister for Local Government Housing and Planning and Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA's Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, wrote to Kevin Foster MP, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, to invite him to a future meeting of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group to discuss support for people with no recourse to public funds who are facing destitution.
- In March 2021, Aileen Campbell, Scotland's former Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government wrote to Priti Patel MP, Home Secretary, urging her to lift the no recourse to public funds condition.
Support for migrant workers in Perth and Kinross
Following the closure of a hotel in Pilochry during the pandemic, housing officers in Perth and Kinross Council worked in partnership with PKAVS Minority Communities Hub to support staff who had lost jobs and tied accommodation. The council helped 10 households with no recourse to public funds by providing furnished accommodation and support. As restrictions eased, council staff worked with the householders to explore their housing options. All have successfully moved into private sector housing and have secured alternative employment.
Perth and Kinross Council responded swiftly when the 2 Sisters food processing plant in Coupar Angus temporarily closed following a coronavirus outbreak. The plant employed staff with over 20 different nationalities, many of whom had limited employment rights and were ineligible for benefits. There was a concern that some people would take risks and not follow self-isolation rules in order to earn money to pay their rent and feed themselves. Council officers worked with PKAVS Minority Communities Hub to reach affected migrant workers and calls were made to over 200 workers living in the area. The council used food fund monies to create a bespoke scheme for people with no recourse to public funds. A one-off payment of £190 was paid to each member of staff that met the qualifying criteria.
We said we would set out a broader range of accommodation options in crisis situations, including information on short-term community hosting.
The Nightstop community hosting model has been adopted in Glasgow, Edinburgh and West Lothian to provide short-term emergency accommodation for young people aged between 16 and 25. The pandemic made these sorts of accommodation models more challenging due to the precautions required to limit the spread of the virus between households.
In 2019, the joint Scottish Government and COSLA Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group tasked the A Way Home Scotland coalition with developing youth homelessness prevention pathways for young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Scotland. The second youth homelessness prevention pathway was published earlier this year. More details are provided earlier in the document.
- In March 2021, the A Way Home Scotland coalition published a youth homelessness prevention pathway for all young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Scotland, which recommends upscaling community hosting and shared tenancy models so that young people do not have to navigate adult services. We intend to work in partnership with the coalition to implement the pathway recommendations.
We said we would publish guidance later in 2020 on the Unsuitable Accommodation Order and bring forward a further Scottish statutory instrument that will provide clarity on the changes to the Order.
The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) Scotland Order 2014, known as the Unsuitable Accommodation Order, protects pregnant women and families with children who are homeless from being accommodated in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation for more than seven days. The Scottish Government amended this legislation in May 2020 to extend these protections to all households.
Owing to the uncertain trajectory of COVID-19, temporary exceptions to the order remained in place until 30 September 2021. These temporary exceptions allowed councils to continue to use hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation in certain circumstances.
The temporary exceptions expired on 1 October 2021 and local authorities will be in breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order if any homeless household stays in unsuitable accommodation for more than seven days. All local authorities are making positive progress towards reducing the use of unsuitable accommodation but we are aware that full compliance with the Order from October 2021 will be challenging for some local authorities.
Some councils are testing new approaches so that they can provide a good standard of temporary accommodation. Highland Council is now offering shared temporary tenancies to homeless households who are willing to share a two bedroom property. The project has been informed by the sharer's toolkit developed by Crisis.
- The Scottish Government made an amendment to the legislation on 11 December 2020 which came into force on 31 January 2021. This provided clarity on the changes to the Unsuitable Accommodation Order and amended earlier drafting errors.
- We published guidance on the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order on 31 January 2021 to provide clarity on the application of the Order in practice and to set parameters to ensure that in extending the Order to all homeless households no group is disadvantaged. The guidance also provides detail on the new models of temporary accommodation now included in the legislation (community hosting, shared tenancies and rapid access accommodation) and the circumstances that permit their use.
- Scottish Government officials have met with the local authorities that are facing the greatest barriers in complying with the Order to hear concerns and discuss what support is available to aid compliance.
- The Scottish Government organised and hosted an event on 19 August 2021 so that local authorities could share good practice on compliance with the legislation and discuss different approaches to avoid the use of unsuitable accommodation.
- We intend to make a further amendment to the legislation to provide clarification on how to record breaches of the legislation.
- We will keep the guidance on the Unsuitable Accommodation Order under review.
We said we would revise legislative arrangements for intentionality and local connection and amend the intentionality definition to focus more closely on 'deliberate manipulation'.
The Scottish Government is working to modify local connection rules so that people in housing crisis have the freedom to settle where they choose with access to the support they need.
Although the Scottish Government's original intention was revise the local connection arrangements as early as possible in the current parliamentary session, we have delayed the changes until December 2021 in response to concerns raised by some local authorities about the impact of suspending local connection referrals when combined with the changes to the Unsuitable Accommodation Order.
Since November 2019, local authorities no longer have a legal duty to investigate whether someone is intentionally homelessness. This is now a discretionary power. We had intended to review the impacts of this change later in 2020 to inform our next steps, but this work has been delayed.
- Following a consultation period, the Scottish Government published a ministerial statement on 22 March 2021. This sets out the circumstances and general criteria which will act as the reference for exercising the power to modify local connection.
- Legislation is being prepared which will suspend, for all Scottish local authorities, their power to refer a person/household who is homeless or threatened with homelessness to another local authority in Scotland on the grounds of their local connection. The suspension will apply only to the power of local authorities in Scotland to make referrals to other Scottish local authorities.
- The Scottish Government aims to lay the local connection legislation in December 2021 and the law will come into force in February 2022.
- We will restart work with legal colleagues and partners later in 2021 to explore options to focus the definition of intentionality on 'deliberate manipulation' of the homelessness system.
We said we would introduce temporary accommodation standards.
In our Ending homelessness together action plan, we said that would set up a working group to develop a legally enforceable standards framework by the end of 2020, with the aim of bringing forward proposals in 2021. We delayed this work to focus on the amendments to the Unsuitable Accommodation Order. Work to improve standards in temporary accommodation is now resuming at pace.
- From 1 October 2021, local authorities will be in breach of the Order if any homeless household stays in unsuitable accommodation for more than seven days.
- We have established an expert working group to develop a temporary accommodation standards framework and appointed a chair. The short-life working group will hold its first meeting before the end of 2021.
We said we would complete a voluntary review of homelessness provision at Glasgow City Council.
The Scottish Government has been working with Glasgow City Council to carry out a voluntary review into its homelessness services. The aim of the review was to determine the reasons why homeless people were not offered temporary accommodation. The review has now concluded. We found that, since the pandemic, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP) has stepped up efforts to ensure people are offered temporary accommodation and, in the last 12 months, the council has complied fully with its duties to provide temporary accommodation. This voluntary review was separate from the Scottish Housing Regulator's inquiry into Glasgow's homelessness services.
- The Scottish Housing Regulator published a report in November 2020, setting out the findings from its separate inquiry into Glasgow City Council's work to improve outcomes for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
- Scottish Government officials sit on Glasgow's rapid rehousing transition plan delivery group and are working closely with GCHSCP to ensure it builds on the strong progress it has made in the last year.
We said we would learn from recent initiatives and consider what further support is needed to help people with the transition out of the crisis.
We have learned a lot since the start of the pandemic. The most important lesson is that we demonstrated that we have the will and the means to end rough sleeping in Scotland. We worked in new ways; funded initiatives such as the Edinburgh pilot to facilitate access to the private rented sector and the winter warmer payment; and launched new schemes, such as the tenant hardship loan and the tenant grant scheme during the pandemic.
- We ensured evaluation was built in to all new initiatives and we have considered the evidence on what has worked and – just as importantly – what has not worked.
- The Scottish Government launched launched a consultation on COVID recovery on 17 August 2021 to seek the public's views on legislative reform to support Scotland's recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The consultation paper invites comments on the action required to support a fair, safe and secure recovery.
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