Local Housing Strategy Guidance

Guidance for local authorities to assist in the preparation of Local Housing Strategies.

1. Introduction

The Local Housing Strategy ( LHS)

1.1 The Local Housing Strategy ( LHS) is a local authority's sole strategic document for housing in its area.

1.2 The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 places a statutory requirement on local authorities to produce an LHS which sets out its strategy, priorities and plans for the delivery of housing and related services. The Act also states that the LHS must be supported by an assessment of housing provision and related services, that it must be submitted to Scottish Ministers, and that local authorities must keep their LHS under review. The Act is available at: http://www.hmso.gov.uk/legislation/Scotland/acts2001/20010010.htm.

1.3 This guidance has been produced to support local authorities in the development of their local housing strategy. It aims to build on the collective Scottish Government and local authority experience of developing local housing strategies, supporting areas of strength while encouraging continued improvement. Local authorities will want to build on their existing strategies and are encouraged to demonstrate this continuity when setting out the new local housing strategy for its area.

1. 4 Increasing the supply of homes is a national performance indicator and a high profile policy objective for the Scottish Government. The achievement of this objective is at the heart of the housing planning framework. The LHS should set out the joint and strategic approach of the local authority and its partners to delivering high quality housing and housing related services across all tenures, to meet identified need in its area. The Housing Need and Demand Assessment ( HNDA) is a key part of the evidence base for both the LHS and Strategic and Local Development Plans, and should form the basis for setting the Housing Supply Target ( HST). This is covered in more detail in Section 7 and in the HNDA Manager's Guide: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/supply-demand/chma/hnda/ManagerGuide2014.

1.5 The LHS has a key role to play in contributing to the effective integration of health and social care. It should set out clearly the contribution that housing can make in support of this agenda, through the design and delivery of housing and housing related services, that are capable of responding to the needs of individuals as and where they arise.

1.6 The LHS should also set out a local authority's approach to meeting its other statutory housing responsibilities. These include fuel poverty, house condition, and homelessness; as well as its strategic response to national outcomes, and national housing priorities such as the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, Town Centre living, housing's contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions, improving environmental and design standards, and supporting the development of sustainable communities.

1.7 There are a number of statutory requirements that need to be addressed in the LHS and these are listed in Annex A and are also referenced throughout the text. The LHS is expected to show how actions will support and contribute to achieving the Scottish Government National Outcomes and Targets, including those set out in the Housing and Regeneration Outcomes Framework. It is important that the LHS supports and helps to deliver national outcomes and targets, whilst reflecting the needs and priorities of the local authority area. The Housing and Regeneration Framework is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/reform/HARO.

1.8 Local authorities are encouraged to undertake HNDAs at functional housing market level and therefore, some local authorities may wish to consider preparing a joint local housing strategy. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, Section 89(9), enables this to be done, but it should be noted that any joint strategy must cover whole local authority areas.

The LHS within the Local Strategic Context

1.9 The LHS is central to corporate planning activities and allows a local authority to set out its agreed strategic vision and priorities for the future of housing and all housing related services. The LHS should also show how the housing objectives integrate with the local authority's strategic plans across the range of its functions and responsibilities.

1.10 As with other local authority activities, the LHS should be based on the principles of public service reform and the recommendations of the Christie Commission: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/352649/0118638.pdf

  • a decisive shift towards prevention;
  • greater integration of public services at a local level driven by better partnership, collaboration and effective local delivery;
  • greater investment in the people who deliver services through enhanced workforce development and effective leadership; and
  • a sharp focus on improving performance, through greater transparency, innovation and use of digital technology.

1.11 In particular, the LHS should state how the local authority will draw on housing supply, place-making and housing related services to promote good outcomes across a range of social and economic factors, noting that good housing promotes health, education, employment, community safety, social connectedness and community resilience. Alongside this, the LHS should identify where linkages between housing and other services and agencies can help to achieve these wider social outcomes.

1.12 It is important that when preparing an LHS, local authorities should conduct wide and effective consultation with tenants, service users, communities, partner organisations such as housing associations, and other interested parties. An assets and co-production approach may be adopted that builds on local strengths and communities' capacity to drive local change. This should be underpinned by continuous improvement and development.

1.13 Local housing initiatives present a key opportunity to change and redesign services within the broader context of the reform of public services. The production of an LHS every five years and more frequent monitoring and review, should provide a focus for cross-sector strategic planning, improvement and delivery.

The LHS and Community Planning

1.14 The LHS should be a corporate document agreed and supported by all relevant local authority departments. It should reflect the views and contribution of stakeholders, including members of the Community Planning Partnership ( CPP), as well as demonstrating the contribution housing can make to the delivery of wider CPP outcomes.

1.15 An outcome focussed approach is central to development and delivery of an effective LHS and should provide the framework for the co-ordination of joint effort. The outcomes in the LHS can only be delivered through strong partnership and collaborative working at all levels and this partnership commitment should be reflected in the LHS. CPPs should support local communities to become empowered to lead change and build on the assets and potential that already exist within their own area.

1.16 The policy context for this is the March 2012 Scottish Government and CoSLA joint 'Statement of Ambition'. This places CPPs at the core of public service reform. The scope and content of a Single Outcome Agreement ( SOA) can be found at: www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/local-government/CP/SOA2012.

1.17 The subsequent ' Agreement on Joint Working on Community Planning and Resourcing' indicates a need for community planning partners to share information about the collective resources available and to consider prioritising their deployment towards SOA priority outcomes.

1.18 CPPs are required to produce an SOA that is a high level shared 'plan for place', focusing on prevention and reducing inequalities, especially around six national policy priorities:

  • economic recovery and growth
  • employment
  • early years
  • safer and stronger communities and reducing offending
  • health inequalities and physical activity
  • outcomes for older people.

1.19 As well as the six national policy priorities, agreed local priorities are also reflected in SOAs. All SOAs and related development plans were signed off jointly by the Scottish Government and the relevant CPP.

1.20 Housing can make a significant contribution to both national and local priorities. The LHS should provide clear links between its outcomes and the SOA priorities and highlight resource contributions from CPP partner organisations.

1.21 The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill may provide a further opportunity for joint working. Information is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/engage

Layout of the LHS

1.22 The LHS should be a forward looking document that is outcome focused with a clear plan setting out actions for delivery over a five year period.

1.23 The LHS should be clear, concise, easy to read, and able to be understood by a wide range of stakeholders, including local residents. It should also be a stand-alone document which can be read in isolation, with the need to reference related documents only required for a more in depth understanding of a particular topic.

1.24 A suggested Outcome and Action Plan template, using a separate table for each agreed outcome, is provided at Annex B. Local authorities may wish to use this approach for recording actions as well as monitoring progress.

Timing of the LHS

1.25 The development of the LHS is linked to the timescales for Development Plans and the two should be closely aligned, with joint working between housing and planning officers. Local authorities should progress LHS and development plans together, however, they may wish to wait until the MIR is complete and the new development plan adopted, before finalising the LHS, to ensure that any modifications to the plans can be reflected in local housing strategies.

Supporting the Development of the LHS

1.26 Following submission to the Scottish Government, the last round of LHS were each reviewed by a small panel from other local authorities and the Scottish Government. Feedback from the process was positive, with the involvement of local authority colleagues being one of the key elements that was widely thought to have worked well and added value to the process. Local authorities commented however, that they thought the review would have been more helpful had it been undertaken earlier in the process, perhaps at the draft LHS stage.

1.27 The details of the next review process are still to be discussed and agreed with ALACHO and CoSLA. However, the Scottish Government would be keen to build on recent experience and promote a review process which is underpinned by the following broad principles:

  • Supports improvement and is early enough in the process to influence change
  • Involves local authority colleagues / peer review
  • Is proportionate to the task and available resources
  • Is based on meaningful criteria

1.28 The details of the review process will be agreed by the Scottish Government, CoSLA and ALACHO.

1.29 As stated earlier, there is a statutory requirement for the LHS to be kept under review and it is for each local authority to decide how this is undertaken. However, it is already common practice for the LHS to be reviewed annually by local authorities and for progress against the agreed outcomes to be recorded. It would therefore, be considered good practice for local authorities to continue to undertake an annual update of the LHS and publish this on the local authority's website. Such updates could be centred on the action plan and joint working with partners, monitoring what progress has been made in achieving the agreed outcomes.


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