In October 2021, the Scottish Government established a working group to help produce a new standards framework for temporary accommodation in Scotland. In June 2022, the group published a comprehensive draft framework to consult with wider stakeholders. This is the response from the Everyone Home Collective to the working group’s draft framework.
BACKGROUND TO CONSULTATION
Ensuring standards in temporary accommodation are consistent and of a good quality is needed due to the variance across different types and in different parts of Scotland. In 2018, the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group recommended a new framework to underpin temporary accommodation which was taken forward as an action in the joint Scottish Government/COSLA Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan in 2018, updated in 2020.
EVERYONE HOME RESPONSE
The Everyone Home Collective welcomes these updated standards and the opportunity to inform their development. We hope the comments below help to further strengthen the standards and we look forward to hearing from Scottish Government about implementation and enforcement in due course.
A number of points were raised around implementation and enforcement which we understand is still being developed and we look forward to hearing more from the Scottish Government as this work progresses. In particular:
- The standards need to be legally enforceable.
- Organisations providing (or commissioning) temporary accommodation need to be held to account when the standards are not met.
- People living in temporary accommodation need to know their rights in terms of the temporary accommodation standards they should expect.
- Consideration should be given to the standards forming part of the commissioning process.
- How will any exemptions be decided? There are specific challenges in different local authority in terms of availability of suitable temporary accommodation (especially in rural areas). Instead of allowing areas to not meet the standards, the Scottish Government should ensure that sufficient resources are available to address these challenges so that the standards can be met.
- Consider adopting the human rights law approach around ‘progressive realisation.’
- The role of the Regulator in leading enforcement is key.
- Practice-focused guidance will help implementation and can be strengthened with the addition of personal accounts of good practice.
The collective discussed the implications of the increasing length of time people are having to stay in temporary accommodation. There are a number of implications we would like Scottish Government to consider when finalising the standards:
- We understand that the HPSG Task and Finish Group will make recommendations on how to reduce the use of, and time spent in, temporary accommodation. We encourage the group to consider how to reduce the costs incurred through the high use of temporary accommodation as well as the importance of increasing supply of accommodation, of the right size and in the right places.
- Suitability of temporary accommodation should be reviewed at regular intervals, as people’s health and other support needs are likely to change the longer they are in temporary accommodation.
- A number of local authorities practice ‘flipping’ of temporary tenancies to permanent tenancies, where this arrangement meets the needs of the tenant. How will the temporary accommodation standards impact on this practice, which can be a very positive outcome for tenants?
The standards need to ensure the standards meet the needs of all groups and we recommend giving specific consideration to the following:
- The standards state that the accommodation needs to be accessible. Limited accessible stock can mean that disabled people are asked to make compromises such as accepting accommodation in an unsuitable location. Local authorities need to equality impact assess their practices and ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010.
- As noted above, people’s needs regarding accessibility (and other parts of the standards) are likely to change over time and the ongoing suitability of the accommodation should be reviewed regularly.
- People experiencing domestic abuse should feel safe in temporary accommodation and receive the specific support they need. This is predominantly women, but male victims will also need accommodation and support and there is currently a lack of appropriate services for male victims.
- Temporary accommodation support needs to be trauma informed.
- Women with experience of sexual abuse will need safe accommodation and access to specific support and services.
- Single-sex accommodation should be available where people would feel unsafe in mixed-sex accommodation.
- Gender identity is a sensitive topic and the Scottish Government should seek specific advice to ensure everyone accessing temporary accommodation is treated with dignity and feels safe.
- The impact of these standards on people with different protected characteristics should be monitored and reviewed over time, with commitments made to address any changes needed.
After just over a year off on maternity leave raising a very special little girl (I am biased I know!) I am so pleased to be back at work, juggling a new set of responsibilities and challenges. Before returning in April I felt anxious about what the reality of work would be now, especially since I had left the office at the start of lockdown and hadn’t returned. I was thrilled to be back in, around my colleagues and even more excited to be back for the first “in person” Change Team Retreat since 2020.
That the Change Team has continued to function since lockdown, when they were only in their infancy as a team, is a credit to the determination and commitment of the members themselves. When we all had Zoom fatigue, they continued to come together and work tirelessly on ensuring the changes outlined in the Ending Homelessness Together plan were reaching those who are most affected by homelessness – the people who are experiencing it and the frontline workers who support them. The Change Team have made huge contributions to policy and practice throughout lockdown, including contributing to the Everyone Home Collective, holding a National Conversation consultation exercise and feeding into many external consultations. On top of this, they have been working on their own priorities for change and taking platforms at conferences and webinars to share their message.
On the 20th of April in Arnotdale House we were finally able to bring the Team together in person again. For some, it was a welcome return to a serene venue and for newer members it was their first visit and first time meeting their fellow Change Leads in real life. I know I was a bit nervous and I’ve done this plenty of times before so I can only imagine how our new Change Leads felt on their journey.
From the moment the first Change Lead arrived there was a buzz in the air. The atmosphere was amazing, and enthusiasm was palpable. The day was filled with introductions, ice breakers and activities to allow us all to get to know each other better and feel as comfortable as possible, creating the ideal Team dynamic for what we know will be a really successful and productive year for the All in for Change programme.
To set us up for success, the Team have voted on the priorities to focus on over the coming year at our monthly Retreats, where we will invite experts in each field to share knowledge and answer questions. Growing our own knowledge and sharing our own expertise will stand the Team in good stead for another busy year of influencing change.
Our areas for focus for the year’s retreats are:
- Flexible and person-centred support
- Youth homelessness
- Ending stigma connected to drug use
- Support for people in tenancies
- Holding tenancies for people serving short term sentences
- Health and wellbeing
- Raise awareness of social justice issues
Each of the priorities fit under one of our 4 New Directions, People First, At Home, No Wrong Door and Good Vibes.
If your organisation has expert knowledge or specialist experience in any of the issues listed and would be interested in sharing your expertise with the Change Team, please get in touch at email@example.com and we will get you involved.
Watch this space, as I think this could be our most impactful year yet!
How much change can happen in almost eighteen years? I’ve been thinking about that a lot during my final few days working at Homeless Network Scotland. 2004, when I first joined the organisation, seems like a long time ago. Which of course it is. Clearing out my desk got me thinking about what has changed and, equally interestingly, what hasn’t.
A couple of obvious things come to mind.
In 2004 the Homelessness Task Force had not long completed its work, making a series of recommendations, many of them focused on changing the legal framework for homelessness. And for a while it felt like the sector was collectively working towards the shared priority of removing the priority need test from homelessness legislation. Wherever you were and whoever you were speaking with, the ‘2012 target’ was central to almost every conversation. Looking back, it was probably the greatest level of momentum and collective ownership I’ve experienced. And we’ll certainly need that again if Scotland is not only to create new legal duties to prevent homelessness, but to truly make them a reality for everyone who may need the extra protections.
It’s also interesting to look back on the evolution of Housing First in Scotland. From those early conversations in 2009 when very few people had heard of the model, to the position we find ourselves in 2022 where three-quarters of local authorities are delivering Housing First and over 1,000 people are benefitting from the housing and support they need. It’s a nice reminder that change does happen. But also a reminder that change can be slow and takes a considerable effort from so many people just to inch forward. And when thinking about how much is still ahead of us before Housing First truly becomes the default offer for those who need it, that sense of momentum and collective ownership will be needed here too.
It’s been a pleasure to be part of a small team working hard to change the way we think about and respond to homelessness in Scotland. I know my colleagues at Homeless Network Scotland will continue to do this alongside the rest of the sector and I look forward to seeing what they achieve next.
If I leave with any reflection, it would simply be this: always remember why you do what you do, celebrate progress along the way, and don’t lose patience as you’ll need it for the long haul.
This report captures data for Housing First tenancies which started in Scotland from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.
- A total of 83 new Housing First tenancies started between 1 January and 31 March 2022. A further 11 tenancies had begun between July and December 2021 which had not been captured in previous reports. This brings the total number of Housing First tenancies which started since 1 April 2021 to 318.
- There are currently 310 Housing First tenancies: 8 tenancies have ended.
- 14 tenancies are in the ‘step down’ or ‘stand down’ phase.
- Within the 310 Housing First tenancies there are 318 adults and 18 children. Additionally, 36 households had access to 53 children but do not have full-time custody.
- Between 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022, it has taken an average of 181 days for a Housing First participant to move into a permanent tenancy from the referral date.
- 30% of Housing First participants move into their tenancy within 50 days.
- 94% of Housing First households are single people.
- 43% of participants are aged 35-49.
- 70% of participants are receiving support from the third and independent sector.
Read the report Housing First monitoring report: year one quarter four