This report by the Prevention Task and Finish Group provides an outline of the groundwork needed to achieve the potential of the proposed new homelessness prevention duties, as well as outlining the steps needed to catalyse public bodies into taking action to support the duties’ implementation. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to the Scottish Government’s efforts to build on and develop our shared national approach to homelessness prevention.
The report is based on some key organising principles and values that dominated the Group’s discussions throughout its work:
- Cross-sector culture change and leadership is required so that homelessness prevention is seen as everyone’s business
- No-one should experience homelessness after leaving the support of any public body
- Public bodies should be fully supported and resourced to enable workforce development and training
- Housing must continue to be built, acquired and updated
Based on these key messages, the report identifies five priority areas that require focus if the new prevention duties are to have the greatest impact. Under the priority areas identified, the Task and Finish Group highlighted a range of actions that are required to ensure that the transformational potential of the new homelessness prevention duties are realised.
While the Group’s brief was broad in scope and the report includes medium and long-term actions that are required to ensure the successful implementation of the duties, one of its key tasks was to identify some of the key short-term steps that are required to ensure the success of the legislation being introduced as expected in autumn. These actions include:
Workforce training and support
- Creating Homelessness Prevention Strategic Lead and Homelessness Prevention Lead roles in all public bodies to whom the new duties apply.
- Creating a national lead on training around the duties, to both support new ways of working across sectors, as well as continuing to ensure the ongoing development of knowledge and understanding in relevant sectors.
- Renaming the Housing Bill to reflect the broad scope of the provision, for example the ‘Early Intervention & Housing Sustainability Bill’.
- Providing clarity as soon as possible on which public bodies the new duties will apply to, so that individuals and organisations working in those sectors can engage with the draft legislation.
- Clarifying what is meant by ‘Ask’ and ‘Act,’ and introduce these as two separate duties.
- Carrying out in-depth consultation with frontline workers, managers and strategic leads in ‘wider public bodies’ to ensure the ‘Ask’ and ‘Act’ duties are designed in a way that is appropriate for those sectors.
- Carrying out a full financial assessment to ensure that all public bodies affected by the new duties have the budget to fulfil their duties, and making all additional funding required available to support the new duties.
Service changes and support
- Conducting system reviews now, in anticipation of the new duties, to identify changes to commissioned services and the formation of collaborative networks. These reviews should be led by people with experience of homelessness.
- Commissioning a piece of work looking at data sharing across public bodies, with a view to enabling data relating to individuals at risk of homelessness to be shared across public services, supported by informed consent.
Monitoring and oversight
- Once there is clarity on the new homelessness prevention duties, the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) should update its regulatory framework, clearly setting out how it will assess local authority and landlord compliance.
- Establishing an oversight project board with various workstreams to oversee implementation of the duties (legislation, service restructure and transition to the new model, development of statutory guidance etc.).
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