Table 6 shows that, between 1 April and 30 September 2018, settled accommodation (private and social rented tenancies, including any non-permanent accommodation) was secured for 9,360 (82%) of the 11,480 applications where cases were assessed as unintentionally homeless and contact was maintained through to completion of the application. As Chart 4B shows, the overall number of households securing settled accommodation has decreased since 2010 (the total number of homelessness applications has also decreased over this period); however, when looking at settled accommodation outcomes as a proportion of all outcomes in each period, the proportion has remained stable.
Chart 4B: Number and percentage of cases assessed as unintentionally homeless [and in priority need], securing settled accommodation and where contact was maintained to duty discharge, by quarter, April 2002 to September 2018
Looking at all types of settled accommodation used during the past six months (April to September 2018), Table 6 shows that Local Authority accommodation comprises almost half (46%) of all outcomes for unintentionally homeless households, where contact was maintained. Over a quarter (29%) of unintentionally homeless households secured Registered Social Landlord (RSL) accommodation and 2% secured non-permanent accommodation provided for the purpose of housing support. Private rented accommodation was taken up in 5% of cases. 18% of cases assessed as homeless (where contact was maintained to duty discharge) had other outcomes, including return to previous accommodation (4%), moved in with friends/family (4%), other ‘known’ outcome (6%), outcome unknown (3%) and hostel (less than 1%).
However note that these percentages can vary between local authorities, for example the proportion of cases securing settled accommodation in the latest 6 month period varies between 70% in Stirling to 92% in Inverclyde. The 6 stock transfer authorities of Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Eilean Siar and Scottish Borders do not have council housing stock to manage following the transfer of social housing stock to housing associations, and therefore settled accommodation with the social sector will generally be to housing association properties rather than local authority properties. The proportion of cases securing settled accommodation in the private rented sector ranges between 0% in Eilean Siar, Orkney and Shetland up to 17% in Edinburgh.
The number of homeless households securing a social let from either a local authority or housing association increased from around 2,300 in the April to June quarter in 2002 (Q2) to a peak of just under 5,600 in the July-September quarter of 2010 (Q3). The total number of social lets to homeless households has since fallen back from this peak and has been around 4,000 to 4,500 per quarter since the end of 2013 (see Table 1 and Chart 5B).
Chart 5B: Social rented tenancy outcomes of homeless applications, by quarter, April 2002 to September 2018
Note that Chart 5 is based on outcomes for all applications, regardless of assessment decision or whether contact was maintained until duty discharge.
Housing support regulations
The legislation which established the housing support duty (Section 32B of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 inserted by Housing (Scotland) Act 2010) states that there is a duty for Local Authorities to conduct a housing support assessment for applicants who are unintentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness and which they have 'reason to believe' need the housing support services prescribed in regulations.
'The regulations' are the Housing Support Services (Homelessness) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and were established after public consultation. The services prescribed are:
(a) advising or assisting a person with personal budgeting, debt counseling or in dealing with welfare benefit claims;
(b) assisting a person to engage with individuals, professionals or other bodies with an interest in that person's welfare;
(c) advising or assisting a person in understanding and managing their tenancy rights and responsibilities, including assisting a person in disputes about those rights and responsibilities; and
(d) advising or assisting a person in settling into a new tenancy.
If an assessment of a need for support is made, Local Authorities must ensure the housing support services are provided. If this assessment is made, an assessment also needs to be made for others that reside with the applicant as part of their household.
The legislation states that 'housing support services' include any service which provides support, assistance, advice or counseling to an individual with particular needs with a view to enabling that individual to occupy, or to continue to occupy, residential accommodation as the individual's sole or main residence. The form and duration of housing support will vary depending on the individual's circumstances and/or those of the people in the household.
Assessments under the regulations and actual provision of support
Table 7 shows that during the 6 month period from 1 April to 30 September 2018, there were 13,940 cases assessed as unintentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness that were closed in this period. Of these, 10,129 (73%) were recorded as being assessed under the housing support regulations, and 4,180 were recorded as having had support provided (41% of those assessed under the housing support regulations).
There are large fluctuations across Local Authorities in the number who are making assessments under the regulations and the number to whom support is provided. Some authorities are making assessments for all their closed cases, for example in Argyll and Bute. This is in contrast to other authorities who are recording very few assessments under the regulations, including Scottish Borders and West Lothian. What appears to be even more variable is the extent to which support is then being provided: there are examples where a large majority of those assessed have support provided (for example in South Ayrshire). Conversely, in other local authorities, for example, East Lothian and Fife, a very small proportion of those assessed under the regulations go on to receive support (see Chart 6).
Chart 6: Proportion of eligible closed cases assessed and with support provided under the Housing Support Regulations, April to September 2018
Note: Eligible closed cases are defined as those assessed as unintentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness and that there is a 'reason to believe' that they need the housing support services prescribed in regulations. The original idea for this chart came from Scotland's Housing Network.
Email: Lee Bunce