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Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans Annual Report: 2020-21

A comprehensive overview of Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan activities across Scotland for 2020/21.


Housing First provides permanent, mainstream accommodation as the first response for people experiencing homelessness who have multiple and complex needs, for example, experiences of trauma, addictions and mental health problems.  

The Scottish Government/COSLA Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan and the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2020/21 set out the objective to scale up Housing First across Scotland. Local authorities have been asked to consider and implement Housing First as a default approach to homelessness for those with more complex needs.  

The Housing First Pathfinder programme started in August 2018 across six local authority areas with Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire working in partnership. Up until 31 March 2021, a total of 483 people had accessed Housing First tenancies and support through this programme. Over the course of the final year of the Housing First Pathfinder programme, which ends on 31 March 2022, each local authority is working on mainstreaming arrangements to deliver their Housing First programme. 

In addition to the Pathfinder programme, 248 Housing First tenancies had begun across 15 local authorities in Scotland at 31 March 2021. A breakdown of Housing First provision at 31 March 2021 is as follows: 

Pathfinder local authority

Housing First in place

Plans for Housing First in 2021/22

Aberdeenshire  

Angus 

Argyll and Bute 

Aberdeen City 

East Lothian 

Dumfries and Galloway 

Dundee 

Falkirk  

East Ayrshire 

Edinburgh 

Highland 

East Renfrewshire 

Glasgow  

Midlothian 

Fife 

Stirling  

North Ayrshire  

Inverclyde 

  

North Lanarkshire 

Moray 

  

Renfrewshire 

Scottish Borders 

  

South Ayrshire  

  

  

South Lanarkshire  

  

  

West Dunbartonshire  

  

  

West Lothian 

  

  

Western Isles 

  

 

Delivering a similar but different programme 

No plans to implement Housing First 

Perth and Kinross 

East Dunbartonshire 

  

Clackmannanshire 

  

Orkney 

  

Shetland 

Challenges

There has been wide acknowledgement across local authority RRTPs that the pandemic has severely limited the start-up and scale up of Housing First. Impact has varied from reduced capacity to support increased numbers of Housing First participants to delays in the service being implemented altogether. A number of local authorities have stated that the scaling up of Housing First will now be accelerated as a matter of urgency.  

Extracts from individual RRTPs included: 

  • The formal implementation of Housing First has been delayed in part due to competing priorities and in part due to Covid-19, however, work on Housing First will be accelerated and scaled up as a matter of priority in 2021/22.
  • Reduced availability of housing in the last year has impacted on timescales to secure settled accommodation, however, this will be a focus of the Housing First programme in the coming year.

Practice 

A number of local authorities have chosen to tailor their Housing First service for particular groups of vulnerable people with multiple and complex needs. This section provides an overview of practice, as well as outlining some plans for implementation during 2021/22. It will also provide evidence of outcomes experienced by Housing First participants, which will be developed through the Scottish Government’s Housing First monitoring framework.  

Housing First for young people  

West Lothians Housing First for Young People project has been delivered through The Rock Trust and Almond Housing Association since 2017. All young people involved in the service are allocated a dedicated project worker who provides youth specific, flexible and adaptable support for as long as is required.

Fife Council commissioned a Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) and support service for under 25s in partnership with The Rock Trust. The Fife model is a blended approach of Housing First for Youth and short-term Housing Support for young people. Fife Council intends to create a referral process and will ensure that 21 spaces on HF4Y programme are used by young people either already known to the homelessness service, or to help prevent homelessness if there is a threat of losing their accommodation.  

Housing First for women experiencing domestic abuse 

A project has been agreed in East Lothian, in partnership with Women’s Aid East and Midlothian, East Lothian Council and East Lothian Housing Association, for four Housing First tenancies for women experiencing domestic abuse. This project will be funded by the Scottish Government’s Third Sector Homelessness Fund.  

Midlothian Council has revised the delivery of Housing First, with membership of the multi-agency core-group being reviewed in March/April 2021, now including representation from services who provide support to women experiencing domestic abuse. This provides an additional route to accessing Housing First, and also helps maintain the safety of the victim/survivor by ensuring perpetrators are not knowingly accommodated in an area that would put a person at further risk. 

Housing First for prison leavers 

North Ayrshire Council utilises a post from within its homelessness service to work with Scottish prisons, to provide direct advice and support to North Ayrshire residents who are detained within Scottish prisons, and to identify people who meet the criteria for Housing First. The officer liaises with the Housing First Team to ensure both accommodation and service provision is ready for people at the point of prison release.

East Renfrewshire’s Housing First pilot, which began during 2020/21, has the potential to offer prison leavers tenancies if they are not subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) or Sex Offenders Liaison Officer (SOLO) criteria. This will involve partnership working with criminal justice colleagues and East Renfrewshire HSCP to identify tenants and assess support requirements. 

Housing First as a prevention method 

West Dunbartonshire Council has made the eligibility criteria for Housing First support more flexible and extended it to include people who have not been assessed as homeless, but have complex needs and have contact with West Dunbartonshire HSCP and may be at risk of homelessness. 

Digitally excluded Housing First participants 

North Lanarkshire Council was able to obtain 20 tablets from Connecting Scotland to distribute to Homes First participants. This has allowed participants to access and update benefits claims online, carry out reviews of their support plan and access online viewing platforms such as Netflix. There has been positive feedback from participants regarding this via a recent satisfaction survey which was shared and completed online. 

West Dunbartonshire Council also secured funding from Connecting Scotland to distribute 25 tablets and dongles to Housing First tenants and residents of supported accommodation.  

Positive outcomes of Housing First 

Aberdeenshire Council introduced a Housing First pilot in July 2017. Outcomes of the council’s Housing First scheme were assessed up until October 2020 and have shown an overall positive impact on participant outcomes with improvements in health and wellbeing, and decreases in substance use, criminal activities, admission to prison and increased tenancy sustainment.

The biggest impact of its Housing First scheme was a reduction in the number of admissions into prison custody: from the 41 participants included in the sample, 10 participants had never been in prison custody, 28 had a reduction in prison admissions, one had an increase and two had the same number of admissions prior to, and since, starting Housing First.

South Ayrshire Council began its Housing First service in January 2019.  Participants of the service have reported significant progress in improving their lives. Feedback from participants has demonstrated the benefit of the support provided, particularly helping them resolve situations that would have been triggers for housing crisis in the past, including experiencing anti-social behaviour, access to healthcare, and household maintenance issues. Two participants specifically noted that they would have ‘just handed their keys back’ and ‘would have been in jail’ had it not been for the support received through Housing First.

South Lanarkshire Council reported that Housing First participants saw positive life improvements as a result of their Housing First support across the spectrum of indicators such as emotional and mental health, physical health, money management skills and self-care and living skills. One example noted is a significant reduction in the number of presentations to A&E over the year amongst the client group, with 63.6% reportedly presenting during April 2020 reducing to 15.2% during March 2021. 

Future Developments for Housing First during 2021/22

Policy Developments

To support the scaling up and mainstreaming of Housing First, the Scottish Government has been working in partnership with Homeless Network Scotland on a suite of tools to support local authorities and their partners: 

  • Publication of a National Framework which provides a comprehensive overview to all organisations involved in developing and implementing Housing First, e.g. local authorities, health and social care partnerships.
  • A”check-up” process has been developed to support the scale-up of Housing First and enable measurement against the Housing First principles. The check-up process involves self-reflection, peer input and includes a sounding board of experts to help local authorities improve their programme.
  • A dedicated monitoring framework to capture Housing First progress across Scotland’s local authorities. The monitoring framework looks to collect data on the positive outcomes achieved through Housing First, support provided and rates of sustainment of all Housing First tenancies from 1 April 2021 on a quarterly basis.

Housing First monitoring reports can be found here.

Mainstreamed Housing First Pathfinder Programme Delivery

As part of the transition of the Pathfinder programme into a mainstreamed service, the Scottish Government committed 50% of the programme costs from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 to ensure there was no cliff edge drop off to funding. This funding ended on 30 September 2021.

At 1 October, all six local authorities in the Pathfinder programme have mainstreamed their support provision and remain committed to delivering a Housing First programme. The mainstreaming arrangement for each Pathfinder local authority is as follows:

  • Aberdeen City Council’s Housing First service has been delivered by Turning Point Scotland since October 2021.
  • Aberdeenshire Council began transitioning to their in-house Housing First service in May 2021. This programme had been running in parallel with the Pathfinder programme.
  • Dundee City Council’s main Housing First service is delivered by Transform Community Development (lead provider of the Housing First Pathfinder consortium) from October 2021.
  • City of Edinburgh Council varied an existing procured housing support contract being delivered by Simon Community Scotland until March 2023 when the council will undertake a full tendering process.
  • Glasgow City Council’s Housing First service is continuing to be delivered by the consortium led by Turning Point Scotland.
  • Stirling Council began delivering an in-house programme from October 2021.

An interim evaluation by i-SPHERE was published in October 2021.  

Dundee City Council is funding its mainstreamed Housing First Pathfinder programme service through savings from the reconfiguration of existing support services delivered across the hostel/temporary accommodation supply in the city. Dundee City Council has tailored its Housing First service to the needs of its client base. As such, the council has funded Dundee Women’s Aid to deliver gender specific Housing First support, and Action for Children has received funding to deliver Youth Housing First. Both organisations will work in partnership with Transform Community Development, Dundee City Council’s Housing Service and Dundee HSCP to deliver Housing First across the city.

Scaling up Housing First

RRTP returns received from local authorities indicate a further eight local authorities are expected to implement Housing First during the financial year 2021/22. Several local authorities also outlined plans for the scaling up of their Housing First Service.

Housing First for Youth

In West Lothian, through a combination of RRTP and social policy funding, The Rock Trust were able to expand their Housing First for Youth Service to support 17 young people in West Lothian in 2021/22. Fifteen young people have been supported to move into a permanent tenancy (the remainder are receiving support while they await accommodation). The project’s overall tenancy sustainment rate currently stands at 93% with all but one young person sustaining their tenancy.

Similarly, Highland Council has indicated a priority to commence a Housing First for Youth model before 2024. 

Housing First for Care Leavers 

South Ayrshire Council confirmed that there are ongoing discussions with the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) regarding the expansion of Housing First to include young care leavers. If agreed and progressed, funding will be provided by South Ayrshire HSCP to cover the cost of this element of the service. 

Housing First for women experiencing domestic abuse

West Dunbartonshire’s RRTP outlines the potential use of the Housing First model for women experiencing domestic abuse, along with work with womens aid and violence against women and children partnerships, recognising that women may need different, specific services involved to resolve their homelessness. 

Housing First for families 

North Ayrshire Council has indicated that they are finalising a Housing First for families programme which will be in place during 2021/22. This follows a successful bid by a local RSL for funding from the Scottish Government’s Homelessness Prevention Fund administered through the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. 

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