May Network Briefing

This month you’ll find analysis of ways to deliver more affordable homes, a raft of research and reports on the linked issues of health, housing and homelessness, a Covid-19 Inquiry invitation, commentary on recent political upheaval, news of All in For Glasgow, and much more.

West Dunbartonshire declares housing emergency

A housing emergency has been declared in West Dunbartonshire amid unprecedented pressures on the ability to meet the needs of those in social housing or seeking a council property.

The local authority said Housing and communities Convener Councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal made the declaration and urged the Scottish Government to review the decision to cut the Affordable Housing Supply Programme allocation to West Dunbartonshire by 27% (£2.873m) for 2024/25.

The Housing and Communities committee heard significant progress has been made in the past year to cut the number of empty homes, while 133 new council homes were built and 262 households were prevented from experiencing homelessness.

But Councillor Johal said the council had no choice but to declare an emergency because of stark figures including over 5,500 households on the housing waiting lists, 274 people living in temporary accommodation and over 1,000 homeless assessments being carried out.

The motion received cross-party support and will now involve the Council engaging with both internal and external partners to map out a way forward.

Councillor Johal said: “This decision has not been taken lightly but I sincerely hope that this can help lead us on the path of greater stability for everyone in our communities, especially those who are facing homelessness and unstable accommodation.”

West Dunbartonshire Council is the fifth local authority in Scotland to declare a housing emergency following similar moves within the past year by Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife.

Now recruiting: Head of Policy & Programmes

Working at Homeless Network Scotland provides a unique vantage point and an opportunity to be involved in major programmes addressing homelessness in Scotland.

We are a small team that values commitment, flexibility and a sense of perspective. And we offer job autonomy within a supportive and enabling environment where you can bring all your skills – and maybe discover some new ones.

We’re delighted to share this opportunity and invite anyone who is interested to apply. Or, if you know someone who you think fits the bill, please share. Full details below.

Head of Policy & Programmes

  • 35 hours, Monday to Friday.
  • £57,302 – £60,029

You will provide strategic leadership for a small and highly motivated team of staff and associates and reach across a diverse network to instigate, influence and implement the policy and system changes that are needed to resolve homelessness in Scotland. You will also deploy expertise and oversight that increases the impact of Homeless Network Scotland’s programmes and projects.

Recruitment Pack (pdf)
Core Competencies (pdf)
Application Pack (word)

Please apply before 5pm Friday 7 June 2024.

Change at top must not derail homelessness fight

The collapse of the Bute House agreement, Humza Yousaf’s abrupt resignation as First Minister and the following period of renewal and change in government are drawing attention and energy away from the urgent task of addressing the housing crisis and ending homelessness. Homeless Network Scotland’s Jamie Milne sets out what needs to happen once the dust settles.

All change then. After little more than a year in the top job Humza Yousaf resigned as First Minister and we’re in another period of uncertainty – a new FM, return to minority government, new faces around the Cabinet table making decisions that affect our lives. 

That’s politics. But these things eat up time and energy while the housing crisis deepens.  

What has not changed is rising homelessness, the 10,000 children living in temporary accommodation, the mental toll on people waiting for social or affordable homes, the desperate lives of people trapped in difficult or dangerous situations because there’s nowhere else to go. 

Politics will dominate the news in weeks to come. But beyond the headlines we have a potentially game-changing Housing Bill in the early stages of the process towards becoming law.  

Progress towards this point must not be unravelled by politics. Once the dust settles, all parties must sharpen their focus on protecting the proposals in the Bill – not least the Ask and Act measures to prevent homelessness earlier, which will stand or fall on how they are resourced. 

Reversing the £200million cut to affordable homes in the Budget must also be at the top of the new First Minister’s in-tray.  

What better way to signal a new direction than to make it easier for people to find a decent home so they can build the foundations of a life? What better way to ease housing pressures on local authorities doing their best for people in urban and rural areas? 

The cost-of-living crisis, global events and the pandemic have played their part in stoking housing pressures, but we are not powerless to solve this, as 25 years of devolution shows. 

The new First Minister can re-energise our collective effort to end homelessness by explicitly making this his top priority.  

By finding common ground and working together, all parties at Holyrood can make the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to end homelessness and destitution a reality – and ensure this period of uncertainty does not make things worse.

All in for Change Top Table briefing

The latest All in for Change briefing to the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group sets out what the Change Team wants the Scottish Government to know about and prioritise to bring about positive change in homelessness services.

April’s report also shares some of what the team learned about the state of homelessness services – the good and not so good – during the recent Roadshow, which visited five locations. This snapshot of what’s happening came through interactions with more than 100 people who came to the events, including many frontline workers.

Read the report [PDF] to find out what the team’s top priorities are and more.