Housing First National Framework Opens for Consultation

This new and comprehensive 90-page National Framework is for all organisations and sectors starting or scaling up Housing First in Scotland. It sets out the context in which Housing First can be successfully delivered, and should act as a guide to planning, commissioning and implementing the approach.

Importantly, section 7 provides a ‘Live Status Report’, which will monitor progress toward achieving the right conditions for Housing First to be scaled up right across Scotland, in line with local need.

Housing First should be the first response for people whose homelessness is made harder by experiences such as trauma, addictions and mental ill-health. It provides ordinary housing in an ordinary community because this, for most people, is the best option. It combines settled housing with person-centred, strengths-based and flexible support – as much and for as long as someone wants it.

Please keep an eye on Housing First Scotland website for the consultation launch this week, and on social media at @HFScotland. For more information, training or learning opportunities, or to discuss any element of the framework in more detail, please email housingfirst@homelessnetwork.scot 

Housing First Scotland belongs to everyone who is helping Housing First become the first response for people whose homelessness is compounded by experiences such as trauma, abuse, addictions and mental ill health. It has been hosted by Homeless Network Scotland since 2016.

Consultation Strengthens Destitution Route Map

As the pandemic eases, Scotland will return to a position where the legal basis for UK, national or local government funding for accommodation, support and advice for people without established entitlements remains inadequate. In most cases, councils are currently funding housing and financial support to people with eligible needs.

Around 80 responses were returned for individuals and organisations across Scotland, with overwhelming support for the preferable future set out in the document. Recommendations included in the latest Route Map helped inform the Scottish Governments recently revised Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan.

The ambition to address poverty and destitution for people who do not have access to mainstream welfare and homelessness services is shared by the Everyone Home collective, Scottish Government and COSLA, which represents Scottish Councils. The organisations have agreed to work together to:

  1. develop a human rights-based pathway to safe accommodation and support for people who are destitute with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)
  2. identify innovative funding and delivery models for testing and implementing the pathways across Scotland
  3. continue to call on the UK Government for the policy changes needed to ensure that there are no gaps in the legal framework for people seeking asylum and settled status in Scotland.

Having No Recourse To Public Funds is for most people a temporary experience. The new route-map aims to mitigate the damaging impact of that experience until a person’s status is legally resolved to gain or re-gain access to public funds or re-connection with a person’s country of origin is made, with a forward plan in place to ensure destitution is not experienced in another place. To view the Route Map go to the Everyone Home website.

The Prevention Commission’s final report published

The Prevention Commission – people with lived and frontline experience of homelessness and members of the All in for Change Team – have been working together for nine months to help design new legal duties to prevent homelessness in Scotland. 

Through their meetings they have come together to share our wide range of experiences to support the work of the Prevention Review Group, which will make a series of crucial recommendations to the Scottish Government about new homelessness prevention laws. 

As a Commission we have prioritised an approach to prevention that: 

  • Is built on asking people what they need and acting on it, striking the best possible balance between housing security and housing choice  
  • Looks to re-establish homelessness services as a true safety net for emergencies that can’t be prevented 
  • And ensures duties to prevent homelessness are shared across Local Authorities, Housing Providers, and Health and Social Care bodies. 

Being involved in the Commission was exciting and challenging for everyone involved and members of the Commission were delighted to have directly influenced the work of the Review Group. 

All of the Commission’s reports are available to read on the Homeless Network Scotland website, and you can read their final report here.

Our Impact: Connect, Learn & Act on Homelessness

Our latest Impact Report sets out the work undertaken by Homeless Network Scotland in the first half of 2020. It goes without saying that the circumstances over the spring and early summer were exceptional. We entered the year with a clear focus on our priorities but by March, like everyone, we faced the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown.

The realities of the public health crisis have already made us reassess our understanding of what it is possible to achieve in terms of ending homelessness in Scotland – and shown how quickly that can be achieved. It also brought into focus what Homeless Network Scotland can continue to contribute under such challenging circumstances – to create, contribute to and maintain positive impact.

In the months to come, going into autumn and then winter, the challenge is to accurately assess how to maintain some of the positive progress that has been made so far, while protecting the principles that underpin Scotland’s approach to ending homelessness, and must now guide our next steps.

In common with everyone who has been fortunate to continue working throughout the lockdown, our team has learned how to make the most of digital technology, hosting webinars and communicating regularly [with] through social media while making improvements to our digital presence and ensuring that this technology is the best that it can be in these times of remote working.

This, and other organisational learning amassed over the period will play an important role in the ways in which we connect, learn, and act alongside others to increase our collective impact going forward. We hope you enjoy looking over this Impact Report for the first six months of 2020 and trust you will contact Homeless Network Scotland with any ideas or inspiration you take from it.

A bigger ambition to end destitution in Scotland

Twenty-eight influential charity and academic sector organisations working to end homelessness will start consulting from Monday (17 August) on the second in a series of Route Maps designed to permanently end rough sleeping and destitution (1) in Scotland as the country emerges from the pandemic.

The Collective, named Everyone Home, includes many household names and respected organisations working to end homelessness in all parts of the country. Together, they have agreed a ‘triple-lock’ of measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on homelessness with:

  • more homes
  • no return to rough sleeping
  • no evictions into homelessness. 

The second Route Map considers issues facing people who do not have access to the welfare benefits and housing options that are available normally in Scotland for people at risk of homelessness. This is described as having ‘no recourse to public funds’ and most commonly affects people seeking asylum; those appealing decisions are most affected, with around 50% of appeals subsequently upheld. Some EEA nationals without settled status are also at risk of destitution and homelessness because they cannot access some help and benefits.

There are around 1,600 destitute asylum (2) migrants in Scotland, of whom around half are in Glasgow. A further group of 2,050 destitute EEA migrants in Scotland are also at severe risk of destitution. 

Chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council (SRC), Sabir Zazai, said:

“People in the asylum system are forced into destitution due to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy, a deliberate decision by the Home Office. Today’s Route Map provides a clear solution to prevent destitution. It is essential that the issues facing people with NRPF are part of mainstream housing policy. For Scotland to eliminate rough sleeping, everyone, no matter their immigration status, must be protected and have access to a safe place to stay. Scotland has a proud history of welcoming and supporting people. This route map is an important step in working towards an even better future for people seeking safety in this country.”

The Route Map explains in detail how people in Scotland are destitute as a direct result of UK legislation. This can mean little or no money to meet basic needs, such as food, medicine or access to washing facilities. Having no recourse to public funds is for most people a temporary experience but can be the catalyst for poor mental health, rough sleeping and physical or sexual abuse. The Route Map aims to mitigate the damaging impact of that experience until their status is legally resolved or reconnection with a person’s country of origin is made, with a forward plan in place to ensure destitution is not experienced in another place.

UNESCO Chair: Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, Alison Phipps OBE, said:

“There has now been over a decade of academic research, third and public sector commissioning and substantial activism with regard to the critical levels of destitution affecting a range of populations in Scotland. The death rates attributable to destitution and poverty are rising and well-documented. The voluntary sector is stretched to the limit financially and emotionally. This report from the Collective is timely and urgently needed.

“It is time to value the analyses and to implement the deep structural change which will move vulnerable populations out of repeated crisis, and volunteers and workers out of emergency response mode. I am delighted to endorse its findings and energised by its calls to action.”

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

“When the pandemic began to unfold in March rapid emergency support was provided to everyone who was destitute regardless of their immigration status. As we move into autumn there is a significant risk of people once again being forced onto the streets or into unsafe living arrangements, experiencing extreme poverty and at risk of exploitation and abuse – all the problems we were trying to deal with previously. 

“It doesn’t have to be that way. The response earlier in the year demonstrated that ‘destitution by design’ is unnecessary and there is now lower tolerance for, and higher ambition to end, this situation in Scotland. This is the time to act and put in place measures that will make sure no one experiences destitution in Scotland as emergency measures are lifted.”

From Monday (17 August) to the end of September Everyone Home is consulting widely on this Route Map. Anyone wishing to comment or contribute to the document can contact: hello@everyonehome.scot  or telephone 0141 420 7272 and/or join the conversation on social media at #EveryoneHome – more information at www.everyonehome.scot