Everyone needs a home – a safe, warm place to live, feel secure and have a sense of belonging. Home is part of physical and emotional health and wellbeing but, for some people in Scotland, homelessness is their current reality. We are determined to eradicate homelessness in our country.
In the past year, over 100 people have been supported by the Housing First programme and we will support hundreds more this year, recognising that a safe and secure home is the best base for recovery.
We have increased funding from £23.5 million to £32.5 million from the Ending Homelessness Together Fund and from the health portfolio for rapid rehousing and Housing First for 2019-2024. The money will be used so local authorities and partners can support people into settled accommodation first before helping them with their longer term needs and sustaining their tenancies.
Every local authority is now implementing its rapid rehousing transition plan, which will ensure people who become homeless move to a settled home as soon as possible.
We have agreed the initial priority groups for pathway development, and a high level approach for the development and implementation of these.
The ‘A Way Home Coalition’ was commissioned to take forward work on developing a pathway to prevent homelessness for care leavers. A working group was convened and a paper setting out recommendations around what needs to change to prevent homelessness for care leavers will be published soon.
We are also continuing with our commitment on the development and implementation of a pathway to prevent homelessness for women experiencing domestic abuse, and are supporting the work of the ‘A Way Home Coalition’ on a pathway to prevent homelessness for young people.
Discussions have begun around taking forward a pathway to prevent homelessness for veterans of the armed forces and a number of pieces of work are in train to understand how to take forward work for people with no recourse to public funds.
We continue to work with experts to develop a programme of work to challenge the public perception and stigma associated with homelessness. A core focus is to consider how to improve the way the media portrays and discusses people experiencing homelessness. This starts with supporting organisations working with people experiencing homelessness to talk about their work in a consistent way which portrays the people they work with in a positive and empowering way.
Changing legislation and definitions
We want to remove barriers to support which can hinder the prevention of homelessness and, following our consultation earlier this year, are taking forward plans to commence the local connection and intentionality provisions in the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 this November. This will modify how people are assessed as homeless, recognising that there are usually good reasons for people wishing to live in a certain area and, sometimes, complex health and wellbeing issues that need to be addressed when people are found to be intentionally homeless.
We will work with local authority and other key partners to update the Statutory Code of Guidance on Homelessness so that it underpins the recommendations from HARSAG and reflects new legislative requirements and changes in practice since the Code was last reviewed in 2005. We will, first of all, publish an interim factual update of the Code in November 2019 and, at the same time, set out our plans to overhaul and re-write the guidance for issue in 2021.
Programme for Government
This year’s Programme for Government made a number of assurances towards ending homelessness, including commitments to:
Extending the Unsuitable Accommodation Order, with a view to it coming into force by the end of this Parliament. This will mean all homeless households should spend no longer than 7 days in unsuitable accommodation such as B&Bs.
Launch a fund of up to £4.5 million for third sector organisations on the frontline to innovate and transform the services they provide.
Launch a £1.5 million Homelessness Prevention Fund to increase and spread the work of social landlords in supporting low income families in social housing in ways that help prevent crisis points and avoid homelessness.
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