On September 1st, the First Minister introduced the new Programme for Government for 2020-2021 in the Scottish Parliament. It includes a continuing strong focus on policies designed to prevent homelessness and fix it when it happens. The commitments impacting on homelessness draw on the work of the Scottish Government’s Social Renewal Advisory Board, the reconvened HARSAG and shaped by the All in for Change Team and the Everyone Home Collective of 30 leading charities and academics.
The Programme for Government commits to building on work that has taken place during the coronavirus pandemic to stop rough sleeping and accelerate work to end homelessness. This includes designing-out dormitory style night shelter provision in line with the recent Everyone Home Route Map and going further and faster on rapid rehousing transition plans and continuing to scale up Housing First. There is also a commitment to ensuring policy responses take account of the diverse and complex needs of women.
There is a welcome commitment to extend the protection for private and social tenants from eviction for a further six months, subject to parliamentary approval. Cases of antisocial behaviour are treated differently, but it remains vital that no one is evicted into homelessness, regardless of the circumstances.
A £10 million Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is being established to offer financial support to people in immediate crisis who may not be able to access support elsewhere, and £3 million will support Discretionary Housing Payments made by councils to respond to housing crises.
One of the three key ‘asks’ when Everyone Home launched was to increase the supply of social homes for rent, focused on restarting the long term commitment to build new social housing targeted to areas of highest demand, with properties of the size people need. The Programme for Government commits to £300 million of interim funding for affordable homes for the final year of this parliamentary term, but not yet a commitment for the next term.
More information on the Programme for Government for 2020-2021 is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/protecting-scotland-renewing-scotland-governments-programme-scotland-2020-2021/pages/1/