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 5: we will join up planning and resources to tackle homelessness

We have made some progress against the outstanding actions in this section but further improvement is required. We have completed one action; two actions are well underway; work has started on seven actions; and we will start work on the remaining two actions in the next 12 months.

We said we would ensure the next National Performance Framework review includes explicit consideration of homelessness.

Ending homelessness is already a national priority. The Scottish Government referenced its plans to review the national outcomes in the National Performance Framework in the programme for government 2021/22. The review is expected to begin in 2022.

  • The Scottish Government will ensure that the upcoming review of national outcomes in the National Performance Framework includes consideration of homelessness.

We said we would work with Public Health Scotland to ensure that guidance on infection prevention and control remains fit for purpose and develop separate guidance for homelessness services in Scotland.

  • Public Health Scotland published separate guidance in December 2020 to support those working in homelessness settings to give advice to their staff and users of their services about how they can prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

We said we would improve how we use Public Health Scotland data and intelligence capabilities to ensure improved outcomes.

  • Scottish Government, COSLA and Public Health Scotland officials continue to meet regularly to strengthen the links between health and homelessness and improve joint approaches to homelessness prevention.
  • Public Health Scotland launched a new learning resource, Making connections between health, housing and homelessness, in March 2021. It is aimed at primary care staff and others in frontline roles who may come into contact with people who are in unsuitable housing, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The course has several benefits and learning outcomes, including supporting NHS frontline primary care staff to recognise the impact of unsuitable housing or homelessness on health.

We said we would learn from the crisis period to further improve drug and alcohol treatment and harm reduction services.

  • The Scottish Government has provided £900,000 to Healthcare Improvement Scotland for a two-year improvement programme, Reducing Harm, Improving Care. The programme runs until March 2022 and aims to build on learning during the pandemic to improve quality of care and health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness who require alcohol and drug services. The input of people with lived experience of homelessness and addictions services is an important part of this work.

We said we would embed homelessness as a public health priority.

  • The existing links between health and homelessness policy were strengthened as a result of the collective response to the pandemic. The health of people experiencing the most acute forms of homelessness was treated as a public health priority. This was reflected in approaches to frontline service delivery and in the development of guidance.
  • Scottish Government officials working in health and homelessness policy joined forces 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. The decision was announced in the former health secretary's statement on 12 March 2021. We made sure that information on how to reach these groups was built into the guidance for health boards.

We said we would improve the join up between health, social care, housing and homelessness planning.

The Scottish Government's plan to create a National Care Service is one of the most significant public reforms for decades. The focus is on cross-government working across policy portfolios to deliver a major transformation in Scottish public services. A consultation on the proposals, including the scope and reach of the National Care Service, is currently underway. Views are being sought on inclusion of other social care related services[16] within the National Care Service. While housing and homelessness are not proposed for inclusion in the National Care Service, the consultation seeks views on how to make clear the links to these services. The ambition is for much better join-up between advice, support and care services to enable people to easily move between different types of care and support. Local and national government will continue to work together to ensure a joined-up approach between services that impact on a person's health and wellbeing.

The development of a new homelessness prevention duty will also help build understanding of how these sectors can plan and cooperate more effectively to prevent homelessness.

  • The proposals for a National Care Service are viewed by Scottish ministers as a collaborative, cross-government opportunity to deliver transformation.
  • The consultation on the National Care Service seeks views on how to make clear the links and join up between health, social care, housing and homelessness planning.

We said we would ensure local authorities, housing providers and public bodies join up to prevent homelessness.

The development and implementation of a new homelessness prevention duty will help improve the way local authorities, housing providers and public bodies join up to prevent homelessness. More details are provided earlier in the document.

We said we would produce a cross-government response to the points raised in the Hard Edges report.

The decision to fund the Reducing Harm, Improving Care improvement programme referenced earlier in this section was informed by the lessons of the Hard Edges Scotland report.

  • The two-year Reducing Harm, Improving Care improvement programme will build on the work of the Hard Edges Scotland report in four health and social care partnership areas.
  • The Scottish Government plans to set up a cross-government policy group on multiple and complex needs. The group will ensure new and existing policy initiatives are viewed through the lens of the Hard Edges Scotland report.

We said we would update the code of guidance on homelessness and review the need for a code of practice in the code of guidance on homelessness.

Due to the pandemic, there has been no update to the code of guidance on homelessness since the interim update in November 2019. We remain committed to review and overhaul the code, to consolidate legislative changes made during the pandemic and to establish a group of local authority and other experts to oversee this work. The first new version of the code is planned for 2022 as opposed to our original commitment of 2021, and the review of the need for a code of practice addendum to the code of guidance will be taken forward next year.

  • The Scottish Government will establish a group to oversee the update to the code of guidance on homelessness. This work will start later in 2021 and the updated code will be published in 2022.
  • We will review the need for a code of practice in the code of guidance on homelessness during 2022.

We said we would join up housing, employment and employability support.

The Scottish Government is working with local authorities, third sector partners and with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure employment and housing support is provided in a joined up way. No One Left Behind is the Scottish approach to employability provision. The Scottish Government and COSLA published the No One Left Behind delivery plan in November 2020 setting out the next phase of work to provide a person-centred, joined up employability system in Scotland.

  • The Scottish Government is investing up to £20 million in 2021/22 to further the No One Left Behind ambitions and provide support to those facing long-term unemployment, including people experiencing homelessness.
  • The quarterly monitoring tool developed to capture Housing First activity across Scotland includes an assessment of how employability support is offered to Housing First tenants.
  • Scottish Government homelessness officials are working with employability policy colleagues and with counterparts in the Department for Work and Pensions to promote employability services in Scotland and ensure they are helping people with experience of homelessness to find and maintain employment.

We said we would work with local authorities and delivery partners on effective implementation of Ending Homelessness Together.

  • We continue to support local authorities and partners to share good practice on implementation of the actions in our homelessness strategy through the regular housing options hubs meetings, national events and bilateral meetings. The Scottish Government hosted a second successful rapid rehousing transition plan coordinators' event in June 2021.

We said we would support the homelessness system to respond more appropriately to the shared needs of mothers and children.

We know that the majority of single parent households making a homelessness application are mothers and children[17] and that lone mothers are overrepresented in poor housing circumstances. Our efforts to apply a gendered analysis to our actions is helping us to better understand the needs of mothers and children. We are also paying close attention to the numbers of children in temporary accommodation. The Scottish Government's latest homelessness statistics show that households with children spend longer, on average, in temporary accommodation. There were a total of 7,130 children in temporary accommodation at 31 March 2021. This is a decrease of 2 per cent from the previous year (7,280) but is still unacceptably high and the Scottish Government and COSLA are committed to taking action to reduce this number.

  • The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government wrote to every Scottish local authority in July 2021 seeking clarity on the reasons some households with children are spending long periods in temporary accommodation[18].
  • Local authority rapid rehousing transition plans are supported by an equality impact assessment (EQIA). In 2021, the Scottish Government asked local authorities to review EQIAs through a gender lens, taking account of the recommendations from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland and Scottish Women's Aid (SWA) on how to improve housing outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.


Email: Homelessness_External_Mail@gov.scot

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