Prevention of Homelessness Guidance

Statutory guidance for local authorities on preventing homelessness

Scope and Purpose of this Guidance

1. Part ll of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (as amended by the 2001 and 2003 Acts) sets out the powers and duties of local authorities in dealing with applications from people seeking help on the grounds that they are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

2. Section 37(1) requires local authorities to have regard to Guidance issued by Scottish Ministers in the exercise of their homelessness functions. This addition to the Code of Guidance (the Code) provides such guidance. While local authorities have discretion to deal with each application on its merits in making decisions under the 1987 Act, failure to have regard to the terms of the guidance may give grounds for judicial review of a local authority's decision. Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to prevent and alleviate homelessness. The Code should be used as a supporting document for local authority staff in carrying out relevant activities and discharging this responsibility, and should be seen as a repository of guidance and best practice to cover different scenarios.

3. The Code sets out a summary of legislative duties with supporting explanation and guidance. Previous versions of the Code have been principally intended for local authority staff dealing with homelessness policy and responsible for making decisions on homelessness applications. However, preventing and alleviating homelessness is a corporate responsibility and this addition to the Code is intended for the local authority as a corporate body; particularly in terms of its focus on early and integrated intervention. The Code is also relevant for Community Planning Partners, other local landlords including Registered Social Landlords, elected council members and a range of others involved in tackling homelessness in the statutory and voluntary sectors.

4. The Scottish Government has a unifying Purpose : to focus Government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. Everything that the Government does or supports others in doing should contribute directly to this Purpose. Our success in delivering it will be assessed by reference to the Purpose Targets, which relate to growth, productivity, participation, population, solidarity, cohesion and sustainability.

5. Our Purpose, introduced by The Government Economic Strategy in November 2007, is underpinned by five strategic objectives - to make Scotland wealthier & fairer, smarter, healthier, safer & stronger, and greener. Preventing homelessness through early intervention can contribute to all five strategic objectives by promoting equality, reducing costs by improving efficiency, improving health and wellbeing and supporting and empowering individuals and local communities.

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