Rapid rehousing is identified within Scotland’s Ending Homelessness Together action plan as the key approach to ending homelessness. The rapid rehousing approach means prioritising prevention but if homelessness occurs then households are provided with appropriate settled housing as quickly as possible, moving away from the use of temporary accommodation as an automatic first response to homelessness. Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans are part of Scotland’s strategy to end homelessness, developed and delivered in response to local authority circumstances.
Local authorities have been working on the development and implementation of their rapid rehousing transition plan (RRTP) since 2019 and this report provides a summary of the work carried out by local authorities and their partners on progressing their plans in 2020/21.
In the context of the pandemic and the impact of Brexit, local authorities have reported a number of challenges to the delivery of the RRTPs in 2020/21.
Several local authorities reference reduced capacity to deliver homelessness prevention activity, some citing the impact of the lack of face-to-face interaction with clients. However, there has been evidence of the adaptation of services to accommodate remote working.
The pandemic and aftermath of Brexit has resulted in supply issues in the construction industry, which has impacted on void processing timescales. Local authorities have reported that this has resulted in a slower transition of people into settled accommodation and out of unsuitable temporary accommodation.
Local authorities have also reported challenges to staff recruitment and retention which has impacted on the maintenance of frontline homelessness services and the progress of RRTPs. Short term funding commitments have been referenced as a contributing factor to this issue. The Scottish Government have therefore made a two year funding commitment for RRTPs during 2022/23 and 2023/24 to mitigate these challenges for local authorities.
Whilst there has been a decline in homelessness applications as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, there was an increased demand on temporary accommodation. This increased demand has had a knock-on impact on the ability of local authorities to support people into settled accommodation. The practice of ‘flipping’ or converting temporary accommodation to permanent lets was adopted to varying degrees by most local authorities during the period.
There has been acknowledgement in RRTPs that the pandemic has caused some delays in the starting and scaling up of Housing First in some local authority areas. In addition, the pandemic has served to create obstacles to involve people with lived experience in the development and delivery of homelessness services.
There was a recognition of positive developments including the establishment of closer working relationships with partners such as Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and health services due to the needs generated by the pandemic, and the creative use of digital platforms for service provision or holding virtual meetings with partners at short notice.
There is evidence of progress in terms of RRTP activity across Scotland. Whilst the impact of this activity has been evidenced in some instances, this is not consistent.
Scotland’s Housing Network completed their second benchmarking exercise and reported on RRTP monitoring on a Housing Options Hub basis. The reports capture data from each local authority on homelessness presentations, temporary accommodation usage, timescales of homelessness cases, outcomes (lets to homeless applicants and tenancy sustainment rates), repeat presentations and support needs. The Scottish Government will build upon this evidence through the development of the Activity and Spend templates for 2021/22, which will aim to capture the overall impact of RRTP policy and practice.
The report is structured around the following headings:
- Temporary accommodation
- Settled accommodation
- Housing First
- Lived experience
Within these headings the report summarises the practice implemented by local authorities and partners in 2020/21, highlighting some specific examples. Detail of some planned activity for the year 2021/22 is also given within each of the above headings.
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