BOOKING OPEN for ‘Branching Out’ Scotland’s Housing First Conference 2021

Booking is now open for ‘Branching Out’ the 2021 Housing First Scotland conference, an essential online event in partnership with the Wheatley Group to shape the next steps and launch the National Framework for Housing First.

Mark 23-24 March in your diary and view the 2-day programme and speakers by clicking here. You can also get in touch about the sponsorship and other opportunities we still have available by emailing

There will be opportunities to hear directly from those responsible for Scottish Government homelessness policy, as well as sector leaders from health, housing and homelessness organisations across a day-and-a-half of activities and interactive sessions.

  1. Firm Foundations: The first theme this year covers Housing First as an integrated policy priority with shared financial commitment, and shared outcomes. This theme includes the launch of the National Framework for Housing First in Scotland.
  2. Olive Branches: Successful local partnerships are central to the success of the Pathfinder. Learn how local Housing First partnerships have been formed, how they function, why they work and what aspects have been more challenging.
  3. Low & High Hanging Fruit: in theme three we explore the practical lessons learned, the early successes, and some of the growing pains. This theme will help us grow, improve and connect Housing First as it starts up in most Scottish council areas during 2021.

This is a pivotal year in the transition of Housing First towards becoming the default and rapid response for people whose homelessness is made much harder by experiences such as trauma and addictions. From pilots to Pathfinder, and now branching out across Scotland, the national challenge is to keep growing, while learning and improving as we go.

With three themes across two days, you will hear personal testimony, conversations, keynotes, lively panel discussions, sharing of data and knowledge, and, as always, the opportunity to get involved.

View the 2-day programme and speakers by clicking here.

Book a place at one, or all, of the sessions by clicking here.

Poverty and Inequality Commission strategy published

Recent experience has sharpened the impacts of poverty and inequality. However the underlying issues reflect pre-existing inequalities. The Strategic Plan published this month by the Poverty and Inequality Commission sets out how the Commission will advise, support and challenge partners to embed the shared commitment to addressing poverty and inequality and translate it into action through five priorities.

In Strategic Priority 3: Advocate for a response to COVID-19 that addresses the structural causes of poverty and inequality, the Commission pledges to carry out work to look at the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on the key levers to address poverty: work and earnings, social security and housing. The report overall reinforces what we know, that poverty and inequality are not inevitable and that it is possible to redesign society to addresses the structural inequalities leading to poverty and create a fair and sustainable economy. The strategy highlights thatthe Scottish Government has provided a lifeline to those who are struggling by investing in food security and community well-being, housing people who are homeless, and providing additional payments to carers during the pandemic. But significant challenges remain, and this strategy commits to ensuring that reducing poverty and inequality is central to policy making and delivery in Scotland. More information here.

Social Renewal Advisory Board publishes landmark report

The Social Renewal Advisory Board was set up by Scottish Ministers to set out proposals aimed at renewing and reinvigorating the country after the pandemic. Their detailed and far-reaching report has now been published, 10 years on from the Christie Commission. The final report titled If not now, when? sets a course for future social policy making in Scotland.

Setting out a future where inequality and disadvantage are addressed at systemic level, it includes multiple recommendations that address aspects of homelessness and destitution, based on experience gained during the pandemic as well as long-standing evidence and data. The report notes that the impact of the pandemic will further increase the need for affordable housing, with an initial step to increase housing supply through mapping existing stock and expanding programmes that convert empty properties into affordable homes for those who need them.

The firm commitment from Scottish Government and COSLA to ending homelessness is acknowledged early as part of the foreword to the far-reaching report. Among recommendations on homelessness; the right to an adequate home should be incorporated into Scots Law in line with the implementation guidelines on the ‘Right to Adequate Housing’ set out by the UN Special Rapporteur, implementing the proposals of the Prevention Review Group on a legal duty to prevent. Where people are affected by homelessness, they must have access to safe, secure, suitable and accessible housing as quickly as possible along with any extra support if they need it. It also recommends that the national plan for ending homelessness should be extended beyond 2023 for a further five years, edging towards the 10-year, two-parliamentary-terms call to end homelessness made by Everyone Home as part of the collective’s ‘manifesto’ to Scotland’s political parties.

At more than 70 pages, If Not Now, When? is a landmark in social policy, drawing together evidence, expertise and lived experience, and recognising that some people and communities will need extra help and support as part of a refreshed ambition for social and economic change with accountability

Scottish Government announces additional funding to tackle drug deaths

In a Ministerial statement on drugs policy to the Scottish Parliament at the end of January the First Minister announced additional funding over the next five years to address drug-related deaths in Scotland.

The funding consists of an extra £5 million that will be delivered in what remains of this financial year, to be deployed for high priority work.

If the current Government is returned after the Scottish Parliament election, the announcement promises £50m per year on top. This will include an additional £20 million a year for residential rehabilitation that, according to the Government, will include a significant proportion of the extra funding towards developing sustainable capacity in regional centres.

The Scottish Government aims to focus on key areas urgently, including residential rehabilitation, rapid and appropriate access to treatment, an approach that supports people living with drug addiction to address underlying issues and the role of frontline third-sector organisations. The additional funding is welcome, more information is needed about the implications for people receiving benefits who want to enter rehabilitation services. It is essential that seeking help for addiction does not result in people losing benefits, resulting in financial hardship, and that people are not forced to chose between rehab, or their welfare benefits

Homelessness statistics in Scotland

During November 2,727 households made a statutory homelessness application to local authorities across Scotland, with 3,083 household accepting an offer of temporary accommodation. Local authorities and housing associations continued to support people out of homelessness by making a combined total of 1,986 permanent lets to homeless households. 

At the end of November 2020, a total of 13,815 households were in temporary accommodation across Scotland, awaiting an offer of a permanent tenancy, which is 18% higher than at the end of March 2020.

Around 600,000 tenants in Scotland live in homes provided by social landlords, with an additional 45K owner occupiers receiving services from RSLs. The Scottish Housing Regulator is the independent regulator of social landlords in Scotland, including councils that have housing stock.