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 respond quickly and effectively whenever homelessness happens

When homelessness cannot be prevented, our aim is to provide a housing-led response, which means offering appropriate accommodation and any necessary support as quickly as possible. Nobody facing homelessness should have to prove they are ‘tenancy ready’.

Scotland’s most recent homelessness statistics show decreases in the most acute forms of homelessness and in repeat homelessness. This would suggest that people are getting the right solutions to their homelessness. However, some local authorities have too many households in bed and breakfast accommodation, a situation that was exacerbated by the pandemic. The Scottish Government continues to support local authorities and health and social care partners with their efforts to provide appropriate support and accommodation for all those currently in bed and breakfast accommodation.

  • Scottish Government officials meet regularly with senior officers in Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and the City of Edinburgh Council to discuss progress with move on from bed and breakfast accommodation, the use of which is more prevalent in large cities. Progress in other local authority areas is shared at housing options hubs meetings.
  • Glasgow City HSCP has developed an ambitious temporary accommodation strategy with the aim of moving away from unsuitable temporary accommodation and ending the use of bed and breakfast accommodation by year three of the plan.
  • Given accommodation supply challenges in Edinburgh, a short term task force has been established to look at ways the Scottish Government can help the City of Edinburgh Council with plans to deliver more settled accommodation in the short and longer term.
  • Local authorities have reported on progress with implementation of their rapid rehousing transition plans (RRTPs), including efforts to reduce the use of temporary accommodation, in their activity and spend RRTP templates, which were submitted during summer 2022.

We continue to support local winter planning, including efforts by partners to end the use of night shelter and dormitory-style provision.

Rapid rehousing welcome centres (RRWCs) were initially established in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2020 as part of our commitment to end the use of night shelter and dormitory-style provision. These centres provide short-term, self-contained accommodation and trauma-informed support services, with the aim of assisting people at risk of rough sleeping to move onto more settled accommodation, including Housing First. While our ambition is to reduce the use of these centres in future, we recognise that there may always be a need for a small amount of rapid access accommodation, especially in areas where rough sleeping is concentrated. The two centres gather equality information from people accessing the service. It is voluntary for people to disclose this information and data is anonymised.

  • In 2021-22, the Scottish Government provided funding of £387,025 towards the continued operation of RRWCs in Glasgow and Edinburgh over the winter months, including a top up of £263,000 when services were most under pressure.
  • People using the centres were offered a range of services, which included health and social care support as well as assistance with housing, legal, immigration, financial and employment matters.
  • The success of the RRWC model means that there has been no return to night shelter or dormitory-style provision in Scotland, unlike in other parts of the UK.
  • The Scottish Government provided £1,500 top up funding in 2021-22 to third sector organisations in Perth and Kinross and Dundee for personalised budgets so that frontline staff could meet the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness or rough sleeping.
  • Both Bethany Christian Trust and Glasgow City Mission have published annual reports on the use of RRWCs in Glasgow and Edinburgh. They report that 97 per cent of guests in Edinburgh and 96 per cent of guests in Glasgow had positive outcomes and moved onto alternative accommodation. Both centres had more male than female guests, but did provide safe accommodation to women, including victim-survivors of domestic abuse and pregnant women.

We said we would develop a model of frontline outreach, which is linked to our commitment 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 continue to engage regularly with representatives from frontline homelessness organisations across Scotland to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to support people who are rough sleeping or engaged in street begging, many of whom have multiple and complex needs. Research[8] into begging has shown that people have often experienced lifelong poverty and trauma and are suffering from poor mental and physical health, including addiction. To address it effectively, we have to better respond to the complexities of the lives of those begging. The Scottish Government has made reducing drug related deaths and harms a national mission and is taking action to tackle child poverty[9] and create a social security system in Scotland that is based on dignity, fairness and respect.

To estimate the number of people who are sleeping rough, the Scottish Government relies on homelessness data collection from local authorities as well as intelligence provided by frontline homelessness services. There are, however, limitations with both approaches and, as well as reviewing our homelessness data collection, we intend to develop a shared case management system to enable confidential exchange of relevant information between organisations supporting people experiencing the most acute forms of homelessness. This work has been paused temporarily to focus on other priorities.

Frontline outreach services have evolved rapidly as a result of the pandemic with significantly improved partnership working with local authorities in areas where rough sleeping was most concentrated. As a result, the number of people sleeping rough remains low and has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Scottish Government officials are reviewing the case for a national model of frontline outreach with frontline partners to take account of how circumstances have changed since the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group first made its recommendation.

  • The Scottish Government is consulting with third sector homelessness organisations to understand what model, if any, would empower frontline staff and be of value to people using frontline services. Initial stakeholder workshops took place in August 2022 and further engagement sessions are due take place later this year.
  • In 2021-22, the Scottish Government provided funding of £481,000 over three years to Simon Community Scotland to pilot ‘Relationship First’, an assertive outreach service to provide psychological support to people who have been sleeping rough for long periods in Edinburgh due to severe mental ill health. The aim of the pilot is to support a transition into settled accommodation for this cohort.
  • The Scottish Government’s programme for government 2022 to 2023 sets out a range of anti-poverty measures, including a commitment to increase the Scottish Child Payment from £20 to £25 per week per child from November 2022.

We are doing all we can within our limited powers to prevent homelessness for those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Scottish Government ministers will continue to raise the NRPF condition and its impacts on migrant homelessness to the UK Government.

We know that people with NRPF are at risk of rough sleeping or destitution, especially where they can no longer be accommodated on public health grounds. We have sought to minimise this risk by working in partnership with the third sector and local authorities to develop third sector-led accommodation pathways for people with NRPF and by supporting local authorities to understand the support they can provide to people with NRPF.

  • In January 2022, we provided £74,732 to Homeless Network Scotland to launch the NRPF Gateway[10] in conjunction with a range of third sector organisations who provide accommodation and support to those with NRPF.
  • COSLA published updated guidance on supporting migrants with no recourse to public funds in May 2022 and links to European Economic Area (EEA) specific guidance to help local authorities to understand their powers and duties with the aim of maximising support for people with NRPF. It also commissioned training for councils on EEA nationals’ rights and entitlements. The training was delivered by the NRPF Network in May 2022 and funded by the Scottish Government as part of its Ending Destitution Together strategy.
  • COSLA works in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (UK) which provides Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)-qualified caseworker support to local authorities. COSLA also hosts quarterly meetings of the national NRPF Scotland Network for local authorities to share good practice.
  • Scottish Government officials facilitate meetings to share learning and best practice on NRPF policy with other UK nations.
  • The Scottish Government funds a range of advice and advocacy services[11] to help people to stabilise their immigration status.

We said we would learn from recent initiatives and set out a broader range of accommodation options in crisis situations.

This action was proposed by the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group while we were dealing with a global pandemic. As a result of the war in Ukraine, Scotland is now dealing with a humanitarian crisis as well as a cost of living crisis. We learned a lot about preventing and responding to homelessness as a result of the pandemic and we are drawing on these lessons in our approach to the current set of challenges.

  • The Scottish Government’s programme for government 2022 to 2023 sets out targeted action we are taking to help people to sustain their tenancies and help them through the cost of living crisis.
  • The Scottish Government has provided safe accommodation to thousands of people from Ukraine while they wait to be matched to suitable longer term accommodation. Local authorities and their partners are playing a critical role in moving people from temporary accommodation to more settled options.
  • We are currently reviewing the operation of our super sponsor scheme to ensure suitable support can be offered to those who have already applied for visas and may still travel to Scotland.
  • The Scottish Government has chartered two cruise ships, docked at Leith in Edinburgh and at Govan in Glasgow, to house thousands of displaced Ukrainians.
  • We have made up to £50 million available through the Ukraine Longer Term Resettlement Fund to refurbish properties that otherwise would not be available for let.
  • As part of our emergency budget review at the end of October 2022, we will assess what further steps are needed to mitigate the impacts of the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis on housing and homelessness services.

We said we would provide clarity on the changes to the Unsuitable Accommodation Order.

The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) Scotland Order 2014, known as the Unsuitable Accommodation Order or UAO, was amended in May 2020 to protect all households who are homeless from being accommodated in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation for more than seven days. While local authorities are working hard to reduce the use of unsuitable accommodation, our latest homelessness statistics suggest that nearly all local authorities reported an increase in the number of breaches since 31 March 2021. The Scottish Government has held UAO local authority working group meetings since the start of the pandemic where variations in the interpretation of the legislation and inconsistencies in the reporting and recording of UAO breaches were identified.

  • In January 2022, the Scottish Government issued written clarification to local authorities alongside more explicit data collection guidance to minimise variations in interpretation of the legislation.

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 has now modified local connection rules so that people in housing crisis have the freedom to settle where they choose with access to the support they need.

  • The Scottish Statutory Instrument was laid on 20 September 2022 and, if approved by parliament, will come into force on 29 November 2022. After that date, Scottish local authorities will no longer have the power to refer a person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness to another local authority in Scotland on the grounds of their local connection.

The Scottish Government recognises that since consultations on local connection were undertaken in 2019 and 2020, significant events have occurred which have altered the environment in which local authorities operate, including the pandemic, Brexit and the war in Ukraine, all of which place additional pressures on local authority homelessness services.

A monitoring and reporting framework has been developed to measure the impact of the change on local authorities. Scottish Government officials will also engage regularly with local authorities and frontline services to review the impact of the new legislation. As set out in the ministerial statement on modifying local connection in March 2021, we will take appropriate action should the capacity of a local authority to meet its homelessness and housing duties be adversely affected by the modification to local connection rules.

Local authorities currently have discretion rather than a duty to look into the reasons why a person became homeless. The next stage of this work – to narrow the definition of intentionality to focus on deliberate manipulation – has been paused to allow us to focus on other priorities. While very few households are assessed as intentionally homeless[12] and the number has been decreasing year on year, we remain committed to reducing barriers to enable people to get the support they need so they can be helped at the earliest opportunity. This is closely aligned with our plans for new homelessness prevention legislation.

We have begun work to introduce temporary accommodation standards.

  • An expert working group, chaired by Jim Hayton of Scotland’s Housing Network, held its first meeting in October 2021. The group has been tasked with producing new advisory standards for temporary accommodation and considering how these can be regulated and legally enforced. Building on the advisory standards produced by the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland and Shelter Scotland, the group will produce a draft set of advisory standards by the end of 2022.

The work to develop a framework for the standards will take more time. The group is currently considering different legislative routes and assessing how the framework can be applied, monitored and regulated.


Email: Homelessness_External_Mail@gov.scot

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