Changes proposed to how Scotland tackles homelessness

Written by Kate Shannon on 12 February 2018 in News

Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee has published a report following a year-long inquiry into homelessness

Poverty: Picture credit - Holyrood

Scotland should change the way it tackles homelessness, according to a Holyrood committee.

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee has published a report, following a year-long inquiry into the causes and long-term solutions to homelessness in Scotland.

One of the recommendations is to roll out a version of the ‘Housing First’ model which aims to provide a home to those in need quickly, alongside the right level of support, rather than going through several levels of temporary accommodation. 

The committee said this method has proven successful in Finland, the only country in Europe where homelessness has declined.

Committee convener Bob Doris MSP said: “We know there is no quick-fix solution to eradicating homelessness and it still remains a complex issue in Scotland and many other countries today.

“After hearing directly from people who are homeless and those who have experienced sleeping on the streets or sofa-surfing, as well as service providers on the front-line, it was clear that further action is needed.

“That’s why our committee has recommended that the Scottish Government learns from Finland and rolls out a Scottish version of ‘Housing First’, as a part of a potential solution to addressing homelessness.

“Housing is a basic human right and everyone should have a roof over their heads. We hope these recommendations will go some way towards ensuring that becomes the reality for more people and families in the future.”

The most recent Scottish Government figures show that homelessness remains a problem in Scotland, with more than 34,800 homeless applications made to local authorities last year.

The committee also highlighted the need for better support for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

It heard from care-experienced young people, some of whom said they felt ‘trapped’ in unsuitable and sometimes ‘dangerous’ accommodation.

Director of Shelter Scotland Graeme Brown welcomed the report’s broad range of recommendations on interconnected issues.

He said: “Shelter Scotland has for years been campaigning for minimum standards in temporary accommodation and for a reduction in the length of time households are having to spend there, which currently averages 24 weeks, and we support the recommendations in this report in these areas.

"We also need to know more about how the well-intended ambition of rolling out a Scotland-wide version of the Housing First model would be funded and how this would interact with our current progressive homelessness laws.

“The risk is that without clarity on this we may create further legal confusion or complexity and lead to unintended consequences for those that turn to councils that are already struggling to deliver on their current duties."

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