Homelessness Guide for Scots Councils

guide for Scotland’s 32 local authorities is published todaysummarising more than 100 recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) after it was reconvened by the Scottish Government in response to the pandemic. The guide has been developed by Crisis and Homeless Network Scotland, with support from local authority officers and the Scottish Government.

HARSAG met originally in 2017 to recommend actions and solutions needed to eradicate rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation in Scotland. It also advised Scottish Ministers on how to ensure the recommendations are successfully implemented to secure rapid change and improvement. The Scottish Government reconvened HARSAG in June 2020 to help mitigate against the impact of the pandemic on this progress.

This latest series of recommendations endorse rapid rehousing as the key approach in preventing and resolving homelessness in Scotland and the right framework for recovery. There are also central asks of the UK Government on issues such as No Recourse to Public Funds.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis and Chair of HARSAG, said:

“Scotland has made great progress in addressing homelessness in recent years, adopting rapid rehousing as a key policy at national level and publishing a Government Action Plan to End Homelessness.

“The Scottish Government reconvened the HARSAG in June in order to ensure this progress continues through the pandemic. The Group highlighted key actions local authorities and their partners must take to accelerate the elements of rapid rehousing which we know work best – preventing homelessness before it happens and prioritising safe, settled homes over temporary accommodation. 

“This short, simple guide will make it easier for local authorities across Scotland to implement HARSAG’s recommendations and refresh their rapid rehousing strategies in light of the pandemic. Local authorities and partners now have clear guidelines on how to work together to help end homelessness for good.”

Elena WhithamCOSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, said:

“Local Government is committed to working with partners to end homelessness, and this short guide is intended to support the transfer of the national recommendations and policy into local delivery. We know that although we have all experienced the pandemic, its effects and impacts have not been the same across the country, however significant challenges exist for all. I hope this guide, provides useful assistance in our shared ambition of ending homelessness in Scotland.”

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive at Homeless Network Scotland, which worked alongside Crisis, local authority and Scottish Government colleagues to produce the guide said:

“Councils in Scotland are at the centre of the response to Covid in so many ways. The guide is a simple tool to assist local authorities transfer into delivery the main themes sitting behind over 100 recommendations. It highlights what they mean for councils’ Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans, which all local authorities have produced, and sets out the roles and actions expected of key partners.”

The recommendations recognise that, on account of the pandemic, Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs) must be adapted and the data informing them reviewed, and some of HARSAG’s original recommendations must be accelerated, emphasised or broadened in focus.

The four key themes in the guide are: 

  • prioritise prevention
  • broadening settled housing options
  • deepening the equalities focus
  • creating a responsive system with ‘no wrong door’.