Prevention of homelessness duties: consultation analysis

Published today, this report provides an analysis of responses to the joint Scottish Government/ COSLA consultation on proposed new prevention of homelessness duties, which ran from 17 December 2021 to 8 April 2022.

There is widespread support for both the package of reforms and the individual proposals outlined in the consultation but also highlighted is the need for significant investment. This will be a useful evidence base for the Scottish Government to draw on when shaping the final duties to be included in a forthcoming Housing Bill.

Read the Analysis of Consultation Responses

Homeless Network Scotland AGM 2022

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING  

On Tuesday 4 October 2022 at 13:00 in the Jura Room, Crowne Plaza, Glasgow G3 8QT 

Homeless Network Scotland’s Annual General Meeting 2022 will take place at the Crowne Plaza, Glasgow on Tuesday 4 October at 1.00 pm.  

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Full members will also be invited to elect the Board of Trustees and Directors of Homeless Network Scotland for the year ahead.

If you are a full member and would like to stand for election to the Board of Homeless Network Scotland, you can find a nomination form here. Please return by email to jhiggins@homelessnetwork.scot by 12 noon on Wednesday 28 September 2022

If you are not already a member of Homeless Network Scotland and want to vote at the AGM or stand for election to the Board – it’s quick and easy to join us. You will find a membership form here with full details.

Grant Campbell Joins Homeless Network Scotland

Grant Campbell will join Homeless Network Scotland in the role of Head of Partnerships and Consulting, a newly created post to support a diverse network in Scotland to connect, learn and act on homelessness together.

Mr Campbell joins Homeless Network Scotland from Crisis where he was Director of Services across the UK and previously Director of the Crisis Skylight service in Edinburgh.

Grant is a highly regarded collaborator and facilitator – and a well-kent face in the homelessness sector, including his time as Chief Executive of Glasgow City Mission. In Glasgow, Grant was also part of the Alliance Core Team, alongside Glasgow Health & Social Care Partnership and Homeless Network Scotland, that led the consultation and design stage of the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness, since established. Grant was also a founding member of the City Ambition Network (CAN) which has brought a flexible and collaborative approach for creating stable pathways for people who are homeless and facing severe disadvantage.

Grant said: “It is great to be joining Homeless Network Scotland at such a critical time. While there is much work to be done in Scotland, I remain excited and passionate about what we can achieve together across the country in our joint quest to end homelessness.”

Homeless Network Scotland is a membership organisation with a focus on the system and policy changes needed to end homelessness in Scotland. The network actively supports organisations that want to collaborate and provides a platform for people with direct experience of homelessness to connect directly with policy and decision makers.

Grant continued: “For several years, I’ve seen up close the work of Homeless Network Scotland and the impact it has. The organisation has played a key role in galvanising the sector and bringing people together. It’s in that spirit of sharing and collaboration that this new role has been created, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and be part of it.”

Grant will also lead the development of Homeless Network Scotland’s specialist We Are All In consultancy, dedicated to supporting the homelessness, housing and related sectors with a targeted range of specialist consultancy, research and learning opportunities.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing will be Home for 10

Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, will visit Scotland in autumn to provide a keynote at Scotland’s annual homelessness conference.

Ms Farha is Global Director of The Shift, an international movement to secure the right to housing which works with multi-level stakeholders around the world including with several city governments in North America and Europe. She brings a unique set of knowledge and experience to share with colleagues in Scotland, including through her topical reports on homelessness, the financialization of housing, informal settlements, rights-based housing strategies, and the first UN Guidelines for the implementation of the right to housing.

With the conference programme launching today, Home for 10 is the title of this year’s event from Homeless Network Scotland which brings together the sectors and services in Scotland that are committed to adequate housing and preventing homelessness in Scotland.

Taking place on 4 October in Glasgow, the conference is marking ten years since the removal of the priority need test in Scotland; the result of progressive legislation from the Scottish Parliament which created an almost universal right to housing in Scotland, with exceptions as a consequence of immigration legislation reserved to UK Government.

But the 2012 commitment did not end homelessness in Scotland. Rights were seen to leverage action, accountability and help increase expectations – but on their own were not enough when efforts to prevent homelessness had not been widescale or early enough or the supply of affordable housing sufficient enough.

With 2032 the target date for 110,000 new affordable homes in Scotland, many are eyeing the opportunity to align this more realistic housing investment with new duties to prevent homelessness – to assure everyone has a home to build and live their lives.

The conference will welcome Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government who will encourage the conference to ‘stay on track’ toward the ambition of ending homelessness in Scotland. And Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing & Social Care, will comment on how the National Care Service can improve housing and wellbeing outcomes.

All this will be explored across the day in three themed segments:

  • Making the Shift: a focus on housing rights, options, supply and access. And the financialisaton of housing and what it means for Scotland’s long-term vision set out in Housing to 2040.
  • Stemming the Tide: a focus on the factors that make up the cost-of-living crisis, how it links to housing and homelessness prevention – and the correcting action we need to take.
  • Rewriting Social Care: a focus on the opportunities and dilemmas of a National Care Service in Scotland. Change of this size also offers the chance to rewrite the language around social care to put people first.

Plus, four breakout sessions will provide an opportunity for immersive conversation in smaller groups:

  • The Art of Advocacy and Activism
  • Ask About Housing
  • Measuring What Matters
  • No Wrong Door

Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, said:

“Home for 10 is shaping up to be an event that meets the moment. The homelessness sector in Scotland will go on record in terms of the swiftness and effectiveness of its response during the pandemic. But there are stubborn issues, and new threats on the horizon that are stalling progress in ensuring everyone has a home to build and live their lives.

“It is important to keep learning about what works and what matters. As well as a phenomenal range of speakers and contributors on the day, we will be publishing a special collection of insights and provocations from key experts – across policy, practice, personal experience and academia – on the mistakes made, the hard-won progress, and what needs to happen next.”

Keynotes and special guests confirmed include:

  • Darren (Loki) McGarvey, Author
  • Dani Garavelli, Journalist
  • Martin Boyle, Associate at Homeless Network Scotland
  • Catriona Mackean, Deputy Director at Scottish Government
  • Alex Fox OBE, Chief Executive of Mayday Trust
  • Ryan MacDonald, Housing Options Scotland
  • Alison Kennedy, East Ayrshire Council
  • Mark Cairney, Associate of Homeless Network Scotland.
  • Bryony Shannon, Blogger
  • Suzie Mcilloney, South Ayrshire Council

You can view the full programme here and book your ticket here.

Spotlight on drug-related deaths – and potential solutions 

Michelle Major, Improvement Lead with Homeless Network Scotland summarises new data on early mortality among people experiencing multiple disadvantage, the latest data on drug related deaths in Scotland and the solutions put forward by the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce.

Every day in Scotland, three people suffer a drug-related death. Each death is a personal tragedy for them, their friends and families, their communities – and every one of them is preventable. The National Records of Scotland’s latest report shows that in 2021, 1330 deaths were drug-related in Scotland, and while this is 9 fewer deaths than in 2020, it is still the second highest annual total on record. Of all drug deaths recorded in Scotland, 84% involved opiates, and 69% involved benzodiazepines. In 93% of all drug deaths, more than one drug was found to be present. In Scotland, men are 2.4 times as likely to have a drug related death than women, however over time this gap has decreased; in the early 2000s males were more than 4 times more likely to die from drug misuse than females.

Scotland’s drug related death rate is nearly 4 times higher than the UK as a whole and higher than that of any European country – making it a national crisis and now, according to Scottish Governement, a national mission. It is notable that within Scotland, people in the most deprived areas are over 15 times more likely to die from drug misuse than those in the least deprived areas. This deeply embeds the roots of the crisis in poverty, inequality and trauma – exacerbated by cumulative policy and clinical decisions over recent decades.

A new study from Dr Emily Tweed at Glasgow University also highlights the high number of avoidable deaths amongst people experiencing multiple disadvantage in Scotland. Experiences of homelessness, justice involvement, opioid dependence and psychosis often co-occur and the population of people experiencing these issues is growing and aging. This new research suggests that those who experience more than one of these disadvantages are most at risk of premature and avoidable death.

All this means that the recent efforts to understand and create solutions to alleviate the crisis are very welcome and much needed, with key reports published in recent weeks. Over the last three years, the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce have listened to the voices of people from across Scotland and beyond – people with experience of using drugs, families, service providers, community representatives, those in our justice and emergency services, academics and many more. Their stories have been heard and learned from. Combined with findings from an examination of the evidence base, these stories and experiences are at the heart of the recommendations and actions from the Taskforce. The final report, Changing Lives, was published on 21 July and includes recommendations for a No Wrong Door approach to accesssing services. Taking a No Wrong Door approach means breaking down traditional silos between services and sectors so that there is easier access to the treatment and support that people want. This is critically important.

Reporting on the Changing Lives report, Scottish Housing News highlighted the recommendation that Scottish Government should continue to support Housing First and scale up the approach across all Scottish local authorities, and that learning from the Housing First model could be used to support the design of other services. With a strong evidence base, Housing First has a high success rate for people whose homelessness is made harder by experiences including addiction and trauma. The nature of the support is open-ended and flexible, is not dependent on abstinence to access secure, permanent housing, and the model is based on a set of principles, one of which is harm reduction.

The extent to which the law can be leveraged to reverse the drug deaths crisis has been explored in different ways too. The Taskforce produced a Drug Law Reform report in September 2021 which focused on how existing drug legislation, a matter reserved to UK government, affects the public health approach that needs to be taken in Scotland. In July 2022, Turning Point Scotland launched a campaign advocating action on drug law reform and the limitations of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives focused on the powers that the Scottish Parliament has to legislate in this area, publishing and consulting on a proposed Member’s Bill in 2021 called the Right to Addiction Recovery (Scotland) Bill. The proposed bill was developed with activist organisation Favor UK and associates with direct experience of addiction, recovery and of different treatment options. This lived experience lens and expertise, alongside our belief in the importance of rights to redress disadvantage, led Homeless Network Scotland to be among the 78% of respondents who supported the bill when the final proposal was lodged with the Scottish Parliament in May 2022. It has subsequently gained enough support in parliament for the Scottish Conservatives to introduce a Member’s Bill which will go through the relevant stages for new Bills in the Scottish Parliament.

Involving people affected by problem substance use is important for a human rights-based approach to policy making. The Scottish Government has made an important commitment to put people with lived and living experience at the heart of the National Mission to reduce drug related deaths. This approach aims to empower people so that their voices and their rights are acted on in decision-making. Professor Allan Miller, an internationally recognised human rights leader, will be leading on this work and will bring together people affected by drugs and alcohol alongside people who provide services to form the National Collaborative. The National Collaborative will make recommendations to government and will make decisions independently. There is an open invitation for people to nominate themselves or others to be part of the Change Team of the National Collaborative, and for groups who are well placed to advise the National Collaborative to put themselves forward as reference groups. More information and an expression of interest form can be found here.

While there is much to be done to tackle the high rate of drug related deaths in Scotland, when we understand the causes and contributing factors, we are better placed to create solutions and conditions that help.