Local Housing Strategy: guidance 2019

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

10. Specialist Provision, Independent Living, Armed Forces, Key Workers, and Gypsy/Travellers

10.1 The National Health and Wellbeing Outcomes states that “people, including those with disabilities or long term conditions, or who are frail, are able to live, as far as reasonably practicable, independently and at home or in a homely setting in their community”. People should be enabled to live independently with freedom, choice, dignity and control through the availability of specialist provision across all tenures.

10.2 Specialist provision is accommodation and services that may be appropriate when mainstream housing does not meet an individual’s needs. The need for specialist provision can be identified through the HNDA and EQIA process, Integration Authorities joint working and other local intelligence.

10.3 The LHS should articulate the local authority’s understanding of local need for specialist provision of all types and its agreed approach to planning strategically for this need to ensure support for independent living, wherever possible, across all tenures. The local authority should take into consideration extra space that may be needed within a home where someone requires to store specialist equipment or have room for a carer to stay with them at given times.

10.4 The LHS should demonstrate a good understanding of the barriers people can face in being able to live independently in all tenures and evidence the specialist provision requirements of the local population. Effective engagement with individuals, representative groups and NHS and social care commissioners will be essential to ensure a shared understanding of need and delivery, with the approach and actions agreed in collaboration with Integration Authorities.

10.5 Although the reasons for requiring specialist provision to live independently will vary, and may be as a result of multiple and complex needs, the housing and/or support needs arising as a result, will often be the same or similar. The LHS should focus on the resulting need, whether this is bricks and mortar housing, and/or equipment or adaptations and/or a housing related service or range of services.

10.6 Whenever possible, specialist provision should enable a person to live independently in their own home. However in certain circumstances, such as concern over safety, the ability to manage alone or the level of care that is required, supported accommodation may be a more appropriate environment to support an individual to live safely and achieve their personal outcomes.

10.7 The LHS should describe the mechanisms the local authority has in place to allow it to plan effectively for, and react to, changes of circumstance and points of transition, such as: children moving into adulthood; those living with parents that are ready to live independently; those whose parents are no longer able to provide care for them at home; and those in hospitals or residential schools with no need to continue to stay in these institutions. Information from local authority Education Departments should be considered in understanding the needs of children in the area.

10.8 The LHS should describe the strategies in place to provide sufficient and appropriate housing information and advice that supports people to access suitable accommodation and helps them to live successfully in that accommodation.

10.9 The LHS should include information on the local authority’s policy for allocation of social rented stock that has been adapted, with a web link to the relevant Allocation Policy document. Consideration should also be given to the potential offered by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 to use short tenancies to allocate a wheelchair accessible home to someone who does not require it, to prevent these homes from being un-used if there is no local need. Guidance on allocating homes in the social rented sector is located here.

10.10 The LHS should demonstrate that consideration has been given to the specialist provision requirements for those of all ages, in all types of household, across all tenures, including:

  • Disabled people;
  • People with learning disabilities;
  • People who are vulnerable, frail, living with dementia, needing support to remain at home/living in the community;
  • Gypsy/Travellers;
  • Travelling Showpeople
  • People with autism;
  • People with mental health problems;
  • People with complex needs
  • People leaving supported accommodation – persons with convictions, looked after children, people with high support needs currently either in long term care in hospital or out of area placement, those discharged from hospital or a similar institution;
  • People who require supported accommodation – e.g. at risk families, people who are homeless, those who cannot live independently;
  • Young people transitioning to independent living for the first time
  • Ethnic minorities, including migrants, asylum seekers and refugees;
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people;

10.11 Guidance on what the LHS should include when looking at the needs of Gypsy/Travellers and Travelling Showpeople is provided in paragraphs 10.34 – 10.52.

10.12 The LHS should evidence that engagement has taken place with ethnic minority communities to understand and consider any needs that are additional to those covered by mainstream housing. The requirement for non-permanent accommodation should be considered if the intention is to stay in an area for only a short period of time. The LHS should consider the needs of ethnic minority families for homes suitable for larger/extended family groups. It should also consider other specific cultural needs e.g. older members of the Jewish or Muslim communities.

10.13 The LHS should demonstrate that when assessing need for those leaving prison or a similar institution, consideration has been given to the Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 requirement of facilitating provision of general services that a person is likely to need following their release. The LHS should explain how housing officials and Community Justice Partnership are already collaborating or will collaborate in future to ensure that those who are leaving prison or a similar institution get the right housing support that they need.

10.14 In addressing the needs of those with a mental health problem, the LHS should make use of the Public Health Framework document Good Mental Health for All, which gives advice on how effective multi-agency working can improve mental health and wellbeing.

10.15 The “Keys to Life” strategy recognises that people who have a learning disability have the same aspirations and expectations as everyone else. It provides a focus on adopting a human rights-based approach to supporting and empowering people to live healthy and happy lives.

10.16 Local authorities are encouraged to consider the Keys to Life to help inform the needs of people who have a learning disability in developing a LHS.

10.17 “Age, Home and Community: A Strategy for Housing for Scotland’s Older People: 2012 – 2021” contains a vision for housing and housing-related support for older people. A refreshed strategy, Age, Home and Community – The Next Phase, was published in August 2018. Local authorities are encouraged to consider both strategies to help inform the needs of older people in the development on a LHS.

10.18 The Scottish Strategy for Autism highlights that housing has a major role to play in delivering positive outcomes for autistic people and local authorities are encouraged to consider the needs of people on the autistic spectrum in the development of a LHS.

10.19 To support people to live as independently as possible, choice and flexibility should be available through the use of a range of different types of provision. The LHS should set out for each type of specialist provision:

  • Current level of that provision;
  • Current level of need for that provision;
  • Current gap in provision;
  • Future need for that provision and how this will be addressed with relevant delivery timescales.

- Wheelchair Accessible Housing

10.20 The Scottish Government wants disabled people in Scotland to have choice, dignity and freedom to access suitable homes, built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens.

10.21 A Fairer Scotland For Disabled People Delivery Plan contains an action “to work with local authorities, disabled people and other stakeholders to ensure that each local authority sets a realistic target within its LHS for the delivery of wheelchair accessible housing across all tenures and reports annually on progress”. In March 2019, the Scottish Government published guidance for local authorities to provide wheelchair accessible housing across all tenures and a copy is located here.

10.22 The LHS should include information on what target has been set for delivery of wheelchair accessible housing in the local authority area, highlighting what data/information has helped inform the development of the target, and demonstrate any relevant links to the Integration Authority Strategic Commissioning Plan and Housing Contribution Statement. This can be single target, setting out the requirement for housing across all tenures or can distinguish requirements by tenure and / or sub area where this can be evidenced. Local authorities are encouraged to collaborate with other services including Integration Authorities, Social Work (where children’s services have not been delegated to Integration Authorities) and land use planning to help with service planning and implementation. Local authorities are required to report annually on progress against the target(s) and are expected to review annually as part of an annual report.

- Accessible & Adapted Housing

10.23 Accessible housing can be accessed easily from the outside and supports good freedom and safety of movement inside. People who use a wheelchair infrequently and mainly outside of the home may benefit from these kinds of homes. Mandatory Building Standards 4.1 & 4.2 set out the accessibility requirements for all new build residential properties.

10.24 Adapted Housing may have had small adaptations added; minor changes made to the internal layout, or have been substantially remodelled with the possible addition of an extra room(s). Adaptations can assist in making everyday tasks more manageable and help prevent accidents in the home. The use of adaptations can help to reduce the need for care/support services, medical care or hospital admission. A copy of Scottish Government guidance on the Provision of Equipment and Adaptations is located here and a copy of the College of Occupational Therapist Report ‘Adaptations Without Delay’ which is a guide to planning and delivering home adaptations differently.

10.25 Avoiding delays in discharging patients from hospital is a key priority in delivering good outcomes for people. Appropriate housing can be central to helping deliver this priority. Having adaptations in place can ensure that a home can support timeous discharge from hospital or other care facility.

- Supported Housing

10.26 Supported accommodation is specifically designed to provide different levels of support for individuals, depending on need. The support is designed to facilitate independent living as far as is possible, within a homely setting such as, Residential/Care Homes, Sheltered and Very Sheltered/Extra Care housing.

- Non-permanent Accommodation

10.27 This type of accommodation will be found mainly in the private rented sector (PRS), and will be most suitable for those who intend to stay in accommodation for a relatively short period of time, e.g. university students. The accommodation could be a house or flat or a room or set of rooms in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO).

- Care & Repair

10.28 The range of care and repair services can be many, varied, and available to people living in all tenures. The services available will be based on need and resources available, coming from either the public purse or based on a person’s ability to pay.

10.29 The types of housing services on offer to support independent living may include a care & repair service, handyperson services, advice, and technology enabled care. Local authorities are encouraged to consider the Technology Enabled Care in Housing Charter published in March 2019.

- Armed Forces Communities

10.30 Local authorities should fully consider the housing requirement of the Armed Forces Community when preparing a LHS. Given the scope and pivotal role of the LHS, it is therefore important that local authorities ensure that appropriate engagement takes place with relevant organisations such as Veterans Scotland to inform the development of each strategy.

- Key Workers

10.31 Where evidence suggests that there is requirement for action to provide suitable housing for key workers, the LHS should include a policy on this. The provision of housing for key workers can assist in the employment and retention of people vital to the delivery of and improving essential local services.

10.32 To help establish need and to understand the type/tenure and the most appropriate location for the housing (including use of public sector sites for affordable housing, if appropriate), local authority housing colleagues should work closely with local employers across the public sector and possible more widely and with local employability leads in each local authority area to discuss the level of current and future local employment opportunities. Early negotiations are encouraged to take place, where appropriate, to secure suitable public sector sites for affordable housing that may include provision for local key workers.

10.33 Any affordable homes policies for allocating homes to key workers should be transparent and be sufficiently flexible to accommodate changing needs at different times as the nature of the essential service can cover a wide range of functions and salary bands, which can change over time.

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

a) Information of the range of specialist provision (see para 10.10) in place (both accommodation and care and repair) across all tenures.

b) A summary of the local population’s current specialist provision needs and identification of any gaps in this provision.

c) A summary of levels of need for specialist provision over the period of the LHS together with a plan for how this this will addressed.

d) A wheelchair accessibility target and how this has been developed by area, size, type, and tenure together with timescales for meeting the target.

e) Evidence that engagement has taken place to understand and consider any additional needs of ethnic minorities, that the local authority has considered the needs of ethnic minority families for homes suitable for larger/extended family groups, and that it has considered other specific cultural needs.

f) Evidence that housing officials and Community Justice Partnership are already collaborating or a statement including a timeline that they will collaborate in future to ensure that those who are leaving prison or a similar institution get the right housing support that they need.

g) Evidence that consideration has been given to the needs of Armed Forces Communities and that engagement has taken place with relevant organisations engagement takes place with relevant organisations such as Veterans Scotland to inform the development of the LHS.

h) Evidence that consideration has been given to the needs of key workers.

- Gypsy/Travellers

10.34 The Scottish Government is committed to improving outcomes for all Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland.

10.35 The term Gypsy/Traveller refers to a range of distinct groups, including Romanies, Scottish, Irish, English and Welsh Travellers, who regard the travelling lifestyle as part of their cultural and ethnic identity.

10.36 There is, however, no consensus on a generic description, and some members of the community take offence to the ethnic term “Gypsy” and self-define themselves as “Scottish Travellers”.

10.37 In Scotland, Gypsy/Travellers are recognised as an ethnic minority and the 2011 census was the first to include an option for Gypsy/Travellers in the ethnicity category. In the census, 4,200 people identified themselves as “White: Gypsy/Travellers” but it is likely that some chose not to declare their ethnicity. Organisations that work with Gypsy/Travellers believe Scotland's community comprises 15,000 to 20,000 people.

10.38 In December 2017, the Scottish Government launched the Race Equality Action Plan which set out the key actions for the Scottish Government to drive positive change for minority ethnic communities. Following this, a Ministerial Working Group was established to drive forward cross-government actions to improve the lives of Scottish Gypsy/Traveller communities and this will include a focus on accommodation. The group will publish an action plan in 2019.

10.39 Sites - Many Gypsy/Travellers live on local authority/ RSL owned sites, while others live on private sites or in bricks and mortar housing. However, many Gypsy/Travellers still travel, particularly during the summer months, and therefore require access to suitable sites across their travel area. In some instances, Gypsy/Travellers use unauthorised encampments as temporary sites and local authorities should manage these encampments in line with Guidance on Managing Unauthorised Camping (which includes examples of good practice).

10.40 HNDAs will also evidence need for sites for Gypsy/Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. Development Plans and LHSs should address any need identified, taking into account their mobile lifestyles. In city regions, local authorities may wish to assess and address any cross-boundary considerations. If there is a need, LDPs should identify suitable sites for these communities. They should also consider whether policies are required for small privately-owned sites for Gypsy/Travellers, and for handling applications for permanent sites for Travelling Showpeople (see paragraphs 10.51 & 10.52 below).

10.41 The number and size of unauthorised encampments in an area should be taken into consideration when assessing the need for sites and/or pitches, although due to travel patterns, especially during the summer months, the existence of unauthorised encampments will not necessarily indicate a need for additional year round sites/pitches.

10.42 Engaging directly with Gypsy/Travellers timeously on unauthorised encampments may help to better understand their needs, but due to travel patterns, engagement over a period of time may be the most effective way of building up a better understanding of local need.

10.43 The local authority should use evidence from the HNDA to ensure that the LHS demonstrates that the local authority has a good understanding of both existing and future need for sites and pitches both public and private provision, including any cross boundary or regional implications and it should ensure that appropriate actions are reflected in the Outcome Action Plan. A Gypsy/Travellers and the planning system: action plan includes a 10-point action plan to involve Gypsy/Travellers in planning is located here.

10.44 In terms of the way the information is provided, a previous LHS submitted by East Lothian Council on Gypsy/Travellers and Showpeople (pages 87-90), could be considered as a good practice.

  • The information is presented in a way that assists the reader through an array of analysis and data, linking with the HNDA and appropriate links to other research and Scottish Government guidance;
  • The information is summarised after each section with key issues and challenges set out as a list of actions;
  • There is a link to outcomes and priorities – both at a local area level and national level.

10.45 The LHS should set out how any identified need will be addressed and whether the additional need is for year round provision or is of a more seasonal nature. This should include consideration of any requirement for permanent affordable housing and highlight what level of engagement has been undertaken with the Gypsy/Traveller community to determine any need for sites/pitches both public and private provision, and related services.

10.46 The LHS should show how new sites/pitches may be funded using options available to the local authority and local RSLs, such as site rental income and capital grant allocation.

10.47 Site Standards - Scottish Government guidance on minimum sites standards and site tenants' core rights and responsibilities sets out the minimum standards for public sites, covering things such as safety, maintenance, repairs, and facilities. The standards were developed in consultation with Gypsy/Travellers, local authorities, and other stakeholders to be as similar as possible to those experienced by social housing tenants under the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.

10.48 The site standards are now part of the Scottish Social Housing Charter, which are monitored by the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR). SHR contacted all site providers after the June 2018 deadline for meeting the standards to request further information. SHR published a report detailing its findings in October 2018 and a copy is located here. SHR continues to engage with site providers to ensure compliance with the standards.

10.49 The LHS should provide information on site development, provision of facilities, and the maintenance and management of sites, to show that sites meet the standards or what is being done to ensure that sites will meet the standards and the timescales for doing so.

10.50 Evidence shows Gypsy/Travellers face specific barriers and inequalities in accessing services such as health, and education services. The LHS should include information on what support services are available, the gaps in provision and how this is being addressed in order to help reduce health inequalities, race inequality, child poverty and improve educational attainment.

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

a) An assessment of the current level of public and private site and pitch provision and the identification of any gaps in provision together with an assessment of future need and how this will be addressed, including through the use of new sites.

b) An assessment of whether currently available public sites/pitches meet the minimum standards for Gypsy/Traveller sites and if they do not, what action will be taken to ensure compliance and what are the timescales for achieving this?

c) Consideration of how existing sites will continue to meet the needs of the Gypsy/Traveller community in the longer term and whether any redevelopment or replacement of existing sites will be required in the future and if so, within what timescales.

d) Evidence of recent engagement with the Gypsy/Traveller community to better understand their needs.

- Travelling Showpeople

10.51 Historically, Travelling Showpeople moved around the country, usually between March and October, attending fairs and living in caravans on the fairgrounds, and in the winter months secured permanent bases for the storage of equipment and more particularly for residential purposes. Now, many Travelling Showpeople live on permanent sites, which allows their needs, such as access to health facilities and the education of their children, to be better met.

10.52 Local authorities should ensure that the need for sites is understood and addressed through the planning system. The sites have to be suitable for accommodation as well as providing space for storage and maintenance of equipment. This can mean that sites are often located in more industrial settings, but this should not impact on the quality of accommodation or availability of the services they require.

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

a) Consideration of the need for new sites for Travelling Showpeople and if there is any need identified, how is this being addressed and within what timescales?

b) Evidence of recent engagement with the Travelling Showpeople community to better understand their needs.


Email: lisa.bullen@gov.scot

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