Ending homelessness together: annual report 2022

This annual report sets out the progress made in the last 12 months by national government, local government and third sector partners towards ending homelessness in Scotland.

Progress against actions to prioritise settled homes for all

Our vision is for everyone to have a home that meets their needs. Living in a settled home without the fear of being forced to leave at short notice helps people put down roots and achieve a sense of community and belonging.

The Scottish Government is committed to taking action to realise the right to adequate housing in Scotland. We are committed to introducing a new Human Rights Bill during this parliamentary session. The bill will incorporate into Scots law four different international treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and will give effect to a wide range of human rights as far as possible within devolved competence. These rights will include the right to an adequate standard of living, which relates to poverty, adequate food and housing.

Incorporating four international treaties into Scots law is a complex endeavour. The Scottish Government is benefitting from the constructive input of many stakeholders, including a human rights lived experience board, advisory board and executive board. The advisory board functions as a sounding board and advice giving group for the Scottish Government and includes Shelter Scotland and Crisis. We want to take the time to consider the perspectives of these groups as part of our policy development.

  • The Scottish Government will consult formally on the proposals for the bill in 2023.
  • As affordability is an important element of the right to adequate housing, the Scottish Government has created an expert group to develop a shared understanding of housing affordability for Scotland. More details are provided earlier in the document.

The Scottish Government had intended to undertake a comprehensive audit of our current housing and homelessness legislation to establish the best way to make the right to adequate housing a reality. This work was due to start during the last year but has been paused temporarily.

We said we would complete the delivery of 50,000 affordable homes. Affordable homes are allocated based on housing need with reasonable preference given to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness and those with unmet housing need. Local authorities are responsible for assessing the housing needs in their areas and setting out how this will be met in their local housing strategies (LHS) and strategic housing investment plans. Guidance on preparing a local housing strategy published in September 2019 requires local authorities to ensure that equality is central to housing provision and housing services delivery. Each local authority is required to prepare an equality impact assessment to inform LHS priorities and outcomes, and this should include a statement of the local authority’s commitment to addressing inequalities in housing and how this will be achieved.

  • The 50,000 affordable homes target was reached during March 2022 thanks to the hard work, investment and expertise of registered social landlords, local authorities, community and construction sector partners. Of the 50,000 affordable homes completed between 1 April 2016 and 23 March 2022, 34,407 homes (69 per cent) were for social rent; 6,245 (12 per cent) were for affordable rent; and 9,348 (19 per cent) were for affordable home ownership.
  • The latest quarterly affordable housing supply programme statistics were published in October 2022 and show that Scotland is leading the way in the delivery of affordable housing across the UK with 112,993 affordable homes now delivered since 2007, over 79,000 (79,187) of which were for social rent, including 19,727 council homes.
  • Between 2017-18 and 2020-21, Scotland has seen 62 per cent more affordable homes delivered per head of population than in England (an annual average of 15.5 homes per 10,000 population, compared with 9.6 in England), and nine times as many social rented homes delivered per head of population (an annual average of 10.8 homes per 10,000 population in Scotland compared to just 1.2 in England).
  • We have started work towards our next target of delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which at least 70 per cent will be available for social rent and 10 per cent will be in our remote, rural and island communities.
  • A total of 2,362 homes have now been delivered to end June 2022 towards the new 110,000 target, of which 2,068 (88 per cent) are for social rent.

We continue to encourage the housing sector to bring more empty homes back into use and support local authorities to develop their empty homes services and private rented sector access schemes.

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership is working with local authorities to develop a deeper understanding of the data that feeds into the annual council tax return. This has enabled some local authorities to build a more detailed picture of where homes are located and the reasons why they are empty.

  • 1,152 properties were brought back to use in 2021-22,[5] bringing the total number brought back into use since the partnership was formed to 7,759.
  • The Scottish Government will work with local authorities and the partnership to undertake a comprehensive audit of empty homes. The audit will provide enhanced information on where empty properties are located and the prospects of bringing them back into use, helping to better target and design future interventions. The invitation to tender has been issued and the audit is expected to be completed by April 2023.
  • The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership offers free advice about private sector homes that have been empty longer than six months. The partnership recently improved its advice for owners of empty homes, adding information on council tax, financing renovations and a calculator, so that owners of empty homes can find out what their empty home is costing and how much they could save by it being occupied.

We are making good progress with the roll out of Housing First in Scotland. The three-year Housing First pathfinder operated from 2019 to 2022 with the help of funding from the Scottish Government (£5.5 million was provided from the homelessness and health budgets), the Merchants House of Glasgow and Social Bite.

  • Scotland’s three-year Housing First pathfinder programme was the largest of its kind in the UK. The number of tenancies started in the pathfinder areas of Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling was 579. The tenancy sustainment rate is 85 per cent[6] and there have been no evictions.
  • Outside the pathfinder areas, local authorities have been developing their own Housing First programmes in line with their rapid rehousing transition plans (RRTPs). The Scottish Government has allocated £52.5 million to local authorities to assist them with implementation of their RRTPs, including Housing First programmes. By the end of June 2022, 24 local authorities were offering Housing First as part of their service provision and a further three local authorities have plans to offer Housing First in 2022-23.
  • Homeless Network Scotland published a national framework, Branching Out, which captures the learning from the Housing First pathfinder in March 2021. It guides housing professionals on starting up and scaling up Housing First in Scotland and is reviewed every six months to capture the latest learning.
  • The Scottish Government publishes a Housing First monitoring report on a quarterly basis to capture all Housing First activity in Scotland. The most recent report (August 2022) estimated that by 30 June 2022, 1,224 people with the hardest experiences of homelessness
  • had received keys to settled homes.
  • A self-assessment and peer assessment tool to monitor fidelity to the seven principles of Housing First[7] is being tested by 13 local authorities and will provide useful evidence on the quality of interventions.
  • Eight local authority areas have set up Housing First programmes for specific groups, including young people, women escaping domestic abuse, people leaving prison and people who have experienced mental health problems.

The Scottish Government and COSLA want to see a greater proportion of social homes allocated to homeless households. Social housing allocations ground to a halt during the pandemic, which prevented people moving on from temporary accommodation. While restrictions have now eased, councils are still dealing with a backlog of households waiting for settled accommodation.

  • Overall, social landlords let 39 per cent of homes to homeless households in 2021-22 (down from 44 per cent in 2020-21).
  • Local authorities decreased the proportion of lets to homeless households to 46 per cent of all lets in 2021-22 (down from 50 per cent in 2020-21).
  • Registered social landlords decreased the proportion of lets to homeless households to 33 per cent of all lets in 2021-22 (down from 38 per cent in 2020-21).
  • Social landlords let 20,683 homes to homeless households in 2021-22. This was 11 per cent more lets than in 2020-21, but should be viewed in the context of a 25 per cent increase in all lets.
  • In August 2022, we published Scotland’s homelessness statistics for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. Of the 25,816 unintentionally homelessness cases that closed in 2021-22 – where contact was maintained and the outcome was known – 82 per cent (20,686) secured settled accommodation, compared with 80 per cent in 2020-21.

We said we would develop best practice examples of choice in settled housing and assess the impacts of providing a wide range of housing options in local areas. When local authorities discharge their homelessness duty, they can offer people social or private tenancies. Nonetheless, the majority of settled homes offered to people who are homeless are in the social rented sector.

  • The Scottish Government’s new homelessness prevention legislation will ensure that people facing homelessness have greater choice and control over their housing options and outcomes.
  • We have established a private rented sector forum so that local authorities can share learning and good practice on the use of the private rented sector for homelessness prevention and tenancy sustainment.
  • The Scottish Government organised a successful rapid rehousing transition plan co-ordinators’ event in May 2022 to share good practice and experiences of providing a wider range of housing options.

The Scottish Government and COSLA have started work to develop a new and fairer temporary accommodation funding framework. Local authorities currently receive an annual share of the £23.5 million homelessness support grant and a share of the £7 million former hostels grant. The present distribution methodology is based on the amount of temporary accommodation used by local authorities rather than the efforts they are making to transform the use of temporary accommodation through their rapid rehousing transition plans (RRTPs).

  • As the names of the grants do not reflect the importance local and national government place on homelessness prevention and earlier intervention, we intend to merge these two grants to create a new £30.5 million homelessness prevention fund. The aim is to provide greater clarity in budget documents for citizens who want to understand how their money is spent.
  • We are considering a fairer distribution formula that better represents the drivers of need in homelessness and recognises local authority efforts to reduce the use of temporary accommodation.
  • The final decision on the distribution of funding will be made by ministers and COSLA leaders and is expected to be implemented for 2023-24 budgets.


Email: Homelessness_External_Mail@gov.scot

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