Local Housing Strategy: guidance 2019

Guidance to support a local authority to prepare a Local Housing Strategy (LHS).

9. Preventing & Addressing Homelessness

9.1 The Scottish Government wants to ensure that nobody has to face the blight of homelessness and everyone has a safe, warm place they can call home. Strong homelessness rights mean that those at risk of homelessness are entitled to help and support from local authorities.

9.2 The Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan sets out a range of actions in response to the recommendations of the Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) and will transform how those at risk of homelessness receive help.

9.3 The 2001 Act places a statutory duty on each local authority to carry out an assessment of homelessness in its area and to prepare and submit to Ministers, a strategy (as part of the LHS) for the prevention and alleviation of homelessness. The Scottish Government guidance on prevention of homelessness is located here.

9.4 Any approach that is taken to address homelessness should be underpinned by robust, accurate and up to date evidence on the extent and nature of homelessness. The LHS should include an overall homelessness figure, broken down by age, gender, location, household composition and the reason(s) for being homeless.

9.5 People more likely to be at risk from homelessness are those affected by domestic abuse, leaving prison or hospital, in other supported accommodation or leaving the armed forces, refugees/asylum seekers, people with a mental health condition, and people using alcohol and drugs. This should be reflected in the LHS, as appropriate.

9.6 Local Authorities should work closely with a range of stakeholders, including RSLs, Private Sector Landlords, the third sector and health and social care partnerships, to help ensure that collaboration results in a positive and effective contribution being made to the homelessness agenda at a local level. The main focus should be on the prevention of homelessness, potentially through the housing options approach, developed by the Scottish Government, COSLA, ALACHO and local authorities.

9.7 People who experience domestic abuse have distinctive support needs. Local authorities are encouraged to work with their local Violence Against Women and Girls Partnerships to help inform the development of a LHS and ensure that a gender sensitive approach, that recognises the dynamics of domestic abuse, is considered at the outset. Local authorities are encouraged to consider Equally Safe - Scotland’s Strategy for Preventing and Eradicating Violence Against Women and Girls & the Equally Safe Delivery Plan and set out in its LHS how its housing and housing related services will drive continuous improvement in ensuring that women and girls at risk of and experiencing violence and abuse receive joined up, effective mainstream and specialist service support.

9.8 Local authorities are encouraged to consider Change, Justice, Fairness, a research report on homelessness as a result of domestic or sexual abuse, which includes a number of key recommendations, some of which are relevant to local authorities in the strategic and operational delivery of services aimed at preventing homelessness for women and children, experiencing domestic or sexual abuse.

9.9 Local authorities are also encouraged to consider Domestic Abuse: A Good Practice Guide for Social Landlords (a joint publication of the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO), the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Shelter Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid that is supported by COSLA) that was published in August 2019.

9.10 The LHS should set out the joined up approach in place to deal with known milestones and anticipated changes of circumstance. Individuals at risk should be identified early through good planning and partnership working, with effective housing provision and related services in place. A Housing Options protocol for care leavers can help plan for the corporate parent role. Guidance is located here.

9.11 The LHS should demonstrate how collaborative partnership working is helping to reduce inequalities for homeless people.

9.12 The LHS should demonstrate what links there are with local Housing Options Hub, with the LHS Outcomes Action Plan being consistent with Hub Action Plans.

- Temporary and Supported Accommodation - Impact of Welfare Reform

9.13 Welfare Reform has the potential to impact significantly on homelessness. All benefit changes should be taken into account when making decisions at local level, in relation to temporary and supported accommodation arrangements.

9.14 The use of hostels has diminished in favour of other forms of supported accommodation. However, in certain circumstances, there is still a role for hostels and an assessment of need for this type of accommodation may be required. The LHS should include information on the use of hostel accommodation locally and any plans it has for the future. With the development of Housing First across Scotland, settled accommodation for people with the most complex needs, supported accommodation and hostels are currently being reviewed by local authorities and any future plans on supported accommodation should be summarised in the LHS.

9.15 Consideration should be given to the revision of the shared room rate and the implications this may have for people under the age of 35.

- Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans

9.16 The introduction of Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs) came from a recommendation made by HARSAG in 2018. The 5-year plans, were developed and submitted to the Scottish Government by all 32 local authorities by December 2018 and have been in effect since 1 April 2019. The Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan sets out how each local authority intends to implement a rapid rehousing approach, which is suitable for their local context over a five-year period between 2019 and 2024. The RRTPs are to be reviewed each year. Guidance is located here.

9.17 The rapid rehousing approach requires the local authority to work in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including RSLs, the third sector, tenants and residents. It aims to reduce the length of time people spend in temporary accommodation. The rapid rehousing approach does not only intend to move people from temporary accommodation quickly, it is also about ensuring that the settled accommodation provided is appropriate and sustainable and that a person-centred approach is applied when considering individual needs, such as geographical location, proximity to social networks, access to education or work etc.

9.18 The LHS should contain a short summary on each local authority’s RRTP that should include the following areas:-

  • A summary of the preventative action being taken to prevent homelessness;
  • Plans around temporary accommodation provision including supported accommodation;
  • Plans around provision of settled accommodation including the role of RSLs in this;
  • What partnership working there has been in the development of the RRTP;
  • Include details of which LHS outcomes are aligned with RRTP priorities/outcomes.

9.19 The LHS should ensure that there is a strategic fit between the RRTP and LHS Outcomes. In setting the housing supply target, each local authority should consider and reflect any additional housing supply needs to support the delivery of RRTPs.

Areas the Scottish Government would expect to see addressed in each LHS:

a) A summary of the local authority’s approach to tackling homelessness all in accordance with paragraph 9.3 above.

b) A focus on prevention and consolidation of the Housing Options approach.

c) A summary of the appropriate support provision in place or being considered, to help those already homeless and those at threat of homelessness. This should also include a particular focus on how the requirements of the Housing Support Duty are being addressed.

d) Evidence of links to Scottish Social Housing Charter Outcomes.

e) Consideration of the impact Welfare Reform has on the provision of temporary and supported accommodation and clarification if hostel provision is still used by the local authority and what the future plans are for use of hostel provision and supported accommodation.

f) Establishment of links between LHS and the local Housing Options Hub.

g) A short summary of the local authority’s RRTP covering the areas highlighted in para 9.18 above including links to LHS Outcomes.


Email: lisa.bullen@gov.scot

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