In 2014, the Scottish Housing Regulator published its report; a thematic inquiry into the delivery of Housing Options in Scotland's local authorities. It made a number of key recommendations, one of which was that "the Scottish Government should provide enhanced guidance for local authorities on the delivery of Housing Options".
A number of local authorities had already been aware of, and been positively responding to, the need for Guidance. Encouraged further by the Regulator's findings, the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group ( HPSG) formed a Housing Options Guidance Group to develop this Guidance.
The Guidance has been developed in consultation with COSLA, SOLACE, SFHA, ALACHO, Shelter Scotland and Homeless Action Scotland as members of HPSG. Together with the Scottish Government, COSLA and ALACHO, the Housing Options Guidance Group was joined by seven local authorities: Highland; North Ayrshire; North Lanarkshire; Perth and Kinross; Renfrewshire; Falkirk; and South Lanarkshire Councils and Scotland's Housing Network. I would like to thank all members of HPSG and the Housing Options Guidance Group for their joint work, partnership approach and determination in bringing this guidance to fruition.
I very much welcome this and believe this Guidance will be an invaluable tool for all local authority staff, including elected members. It also presents an opportunity to influence the culture of the whole organisation, not solely that of Housing Services. The Guidance has been enhanced further by the development of a training toolkit, which aims to complement and support much of the content. I would like to thank West of Scotland's Housing Options Hub for its unwavering commitment in pioneering such an invaluable tool and to the remaining Housing Options Hubs: South-West Hub; Tayside, Central and Fife Hub; East Hub; and North Hub for supporting and contributing to its development.
After a comprehensive process of consultation with local authorities, housing associations and voluntary sector organisations, the Scottish Government and COSLA are delighted to publish this Guidance to support the further development and embedding of Housing Options services in Scotland's local authorities and other relevant organisations.
Minister for Housing & Welfare
I am very pleased to welcome this important Guidance on Housing Options which I hope will drive improvement in delivery across all local authorities in Scotland. Housing Options is about looking at an individual's options and choices in the widest sense and may involve exploring all possible tenure options. It can also cover other aspects of an individual's circumstance that may not be housing related but could impinge upon that individual's options in terms of access to housing which meets their needs.
Housing Options is also about intervening early and working closely with all relevant services which will assist individuals in their housing situation. It is a service which should be available to all who require it. Delivered effectively, Housing Options can help to avoid crises and prevent homelessness.
On behalf of COSLA, I would like to recognise and record my appreciation of the substantial efforts of all those who collaborated in the working group to produce this Guidance including officers from Scottish Government, COSLA, ALACHO, local authorities and Scotland's Housing Network. Thanks are also due to the West of Scotland Housing Options Hub for their invaluable work in developing a Training Toolkit which will support and complement this Guidance and also to the other Hubs who have supported this important work.
How Housing Options is delivered may differ from one local authority area to another, reflecting local circumstances, but in every area it should follow common core principles and practices. This Guidance is intended to reinforce those principles and effective practices and embed them across all levels in local authorities.
I am very happy to commend this Guidance to all local authorities, whom I hope will use it and the Training Toolkit to develop and improve the effectiveness and outcomes of their delivery of Housing Options.
Cllr. Harry McGuigan
COSLA Spokesperson for Community Well Being