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 

First Route Map from Everyone Home Collective

Night shelters and hotel rooms as a response to homelessness will be actively designed out over the next phase according to plans published today by the Everyone Home Collective. The plans will feed into Scottish and local Government thinking as the country moves out of lockdown and considers the future of night shelter and hotel accommodation along with other issues around homelessness policy.

The Route Map can be viewed here at the Everyone Home website along with further information about the work of the Collective and other plans over the coming weeks and months. Keep up to date with the latest thinking and publications using #EveryoneHome on social media.

Night shelters currently operate in Edinburgh, delivered by Bethany Christian Trust since 1996, and in Glasgow delivered by Glasgow City Mission since 2010.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised both health and practical considerations for charities providing this type of accommodation. This is especially true for dormitory-style shelters.

Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, said: “This has been a priority issue for the Collective so I want to thank everyone involved in pulling together this important Route Map, and the organisations running shelters for their leadership and expertise in reaching an agreement that will work.

“The Collective have agreed to modify provision later this year to take into account social distancing and ensure the safety of guests and staff, aiming to make sure shelter is provided for all those who need it. The Route Map sets out our objective to phase out this type of provision, and in the meantime have it act as a reception centre for Housing First and other rapid rehousing options.”

Housing First Annual Check-Up Published

Homeless Network Scotland have published the first annual check-up report on Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder. Martin Gavin, Head of External Relations, picks out the key points.

Reaching the first birthday of the Pathfinder designed to scale up Housing First across six local authority areas in five partnerships, is an important milestone. With 252 tenancies created the programme is being watched with interest from other parts of the British Isles, as well as Europe, the USA and Australia. Scotland is widely, and rightly, viewed as a leader in implementing Housing First.

In Finland, the Housing First model has contributed to the only downward homelessness rate in Europe, with little or no rough sleeping in their capital city. Juha Kaakinen, CEO of Finland’s Y-Foundation, would have been the keynote speaker at this year’s conference. Instead Juha will join us for a webinar today at 2pm, taking questions and talking about their experiences. Commenting on Scotland’s progress in our first annual Housing First Check Up report, published today, Juha says: “In this work we need beacons of hope like the Pathfinder. The work done in Scotland to upscale Housing First is an inspirational example for many countries.”

The moment that is captured in this quote is built on a solid foundation laid by those innovators who have been sizing up the potential of Housing First for more than a decade in Scotland and supporting tenants to build and live their lives in those intervening years. 

The knowledge that people were spending too much time in temporary accommodation has prompted a focus on rapid rehousing leading to all councils submitting Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans to the Scottish Government. With Housing First sitting as part of this wider approach the focus of the Pathfinder is to challenge and change our current processes in the short and long term, creating new approaches and gradually leaving behind the old; a process of transition that Pathfinders continue press ahead with during the current crisis.

Housing First is still working thanks to the incredible dedication and expertise of support providers up and down the country. And not only in the Pathfinder consortia, also in those council areas testing and operating their own local schemes.

The substantial international evidence behind Housing First points to a tenancy sustainment rate of 80-90%. Tenancy sustainment here has stayed above 90% for the full programme so far. Today’s Housing First Check Up Report also reveals that Edinburgh (98%) and Glasgow (92%) report the highest levels of local tenancy sustainment. A quarter of tenants have now been in their own home for more than a year (58) and 21 people have been at home for more than 18 months.

The time it takes to get someone into a home is also falling. Stirling (-64%) and Aberdeen/shire (-56%) saw the largest reductions of the Pathfinder areas, with Aberdeen/shire showing excellent progress in achieving the 28-day target, with 39% of people moving into their homes within one month. In Dundee we see a steady, sustained increase in new tenancies starting over the period of the report, along with a 41% fall in repeat homelessness.

The report also tells us where challenges exist. In the past year, four people have returned to homelessness, each person will have their own story and we want to understand them all. Sadly, eight tenants have died, with long-term prison sentences accounting for a further six ended tenancies. For the majority of our tenants, underlying health conditions and often a lifetime of multiple severe disadvantage means the odds are stacked against them. This makes the achievement of the 92% (as of March 2020) that remain in their own homes, supported by amazing staff, even more remarkable.

The Pathfinder is also helping us to better understand the impact that scaling up across Scotland will have on this success rate, with all 32 local authorities soon rolling out locally focused Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans. The approach must work for 500 as well as it does for 50.

Joining the Dots: event report now online

“In Glasgow we’ve got so many of the ingredients we need to end rough sleeping. We’re further ahead than others and probably more than we think. If we really collaborate we can really get this done.”

Local services in Glasgow set out what they need to end rough sleeping, what challenges them, their burning questions – and our next steps together. Report on the first of a new conversation on what it will take to end rough sleeping now available. And the next conversation already being planned – stay involved: Michelle@homelessnetwork.scot #JoiningTheDots