Housing Options guidance

joint guidance from Scottish Government and COSLA setting out the principles on which any effective Housing Options service should be based and the outcomes it should achieve.

Annex 1 - Checklist of SHR recommendations and references in guidance




The Scottish Government should:


provide enhanced guidance for local authorities on the delivery of Housing Options

1.4 (paras. 2 - 4)


ensure that guidance provides clarity on how local authorities operate Housing Options effectively within the context of homelessness duties and obligations

2.2, 2.9 , 3.3, 3.9

Based on the flowchart, which recommends an initial assessment to determine if there's a reason to believe the customer is homeless or threatened with homelessness, an HL1 needs to be opened. If the person chooses not to continue with the application then they can withdraw it.


use the recently introduced mandatory data collection for local authorities to evaluate the success of policy on Housing Options

2.6, 4.0

"Success" needs to be defined. Would suggest here that elements might include:

  • The incidence of housing crisis reduces;
  • Housing list operates more effectively;
  • Homelessness presentations fall where appropriate - (it should become apparent fairly quickly if certain groups are being served well under Housing Options. Reasons for homelessness and the profiles of the local clients will help to identify where appropriate options are not available);
  • Repeat homelessness levels should fall;
  • Customer satisfaction levels are high - the use of standardised survey questions will assist in drawing comparisons;
  • The range of options to meet locally identified needs is being improved through clearly defined action planning and improvements can be quantified; for example, more households access alternative tenures where there are shortfalls in social rented housing;
  • The accessibility of the Private Rented Sector is improving with measurable improvements in sustainability in the sector;
  • Staff feedback indicates that they feel supported and motivated to deliver quality services

The SG and local authorities should


build on the work of the Hubs to further develop clear and supportive practice tools to help practitioners deliver Housing Options effectively

3.2, 4.2 (para. 6.)

The Hubs have developed the Housing Options Training Toolkit and a performance reporting toolkit which should be considered and used alongside this Guidance.

Local authorities should:


Ensure all outcomes in Housing Options cases are recorded in accordance with the SG's recently introduced monitoring system

2.6 (para. 7.),
4.2 (paras 1. - 3.)

All local authorities are using PREVENT1


Ensure that outcomes achieved through Housing Options are consistent, appropriate and meet people's needs

2.7, 3.5, 3.6

Appropriate advice meeting people's needs is dependent on services being person-centred. Also having knowledge of a wide range of client groups. A product also of investment in staff training


Consider opportunities for early intervention and work to prevent homelessness


Case study examples illustrate the up-stream prevention work being undertaken to limit the damaging effects of homelessness.


Ensure that support assessments are given to people who need them


Options assessment should include the assessment of support needs.


Review any use of staff performance targets around reducing numbers of homeless applications to ensure these do not result in behaviours that act against the achievement of good outcomes for people in need

3.3 (para. 9.),
4.2 (para. 8)

Performance framework examples referenced.


Minimise the time people wait between initial contact and Housing Options interview


Options should be delivered to the same high standards as any other customer services. Reasonable timescales for responding to customer approaches should be published


Support front line officers with appropriate training and clear guidance and procedures

2.8, 2.9, 3.2

Guidance and procedures for staff.


Ensure they complete a homeless assessment, whilst progressing Housing Options efforts, where there is clear evidence of homelessness or potential homelessness

2.2 (para. 3.),
3.3 (paras. 2. - 5.)

Also 3.4 - Flowchart

Housing Options in no way diminishes or undermines customers' homelessness rights. If a homelessness application is made, this must be considered at the same time as providing Options advice.


Have a consistent structure for Housing Options interviews to ensure that relevant and important questions are always asked

2.9, 3.10 (paras. 2. - 5.)

Checklists and interview forms.


Ensure that advice and information is given in a balanced and appropriate way

3.5 (paras. 4. - 5.)

Options advice must be provided in such a way that a fully informed decision can be taken by the customer, with the appropriate support of the Options adviser.


Improve the quality of record keeping to ensure accurate records of discussions and outcomes and provide a timely record of discussions and actions for the service user

2.6, (para. 2.),
(para 5.),

Robust record-keeping is essential for the monitoring of service activities and outcomes, performance improvement and also for evidencing options discussed and taken. Customers should be provided with a written record of outcomes.


Implement a systematic and consistent system of audit of Housing Options work with the aim of improving service delivery

2.6, 4.4

Examples of operational performance monitoring frameworks, including audit procedures.


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