Citizens Advice welcomes Scottish Government decision to end local connection and intentionality restrictions on homelessness support
People sleeping rough - Image credit: PA Images
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has welcomed a decision by the Scottish Government to end the local connection and intentionality requirements for people to access homelessness services in Scotland.
Currently anyone wanting help from a council in Scotland must prove that they have a connection to that local authority area before they can access homelessness services.
The council must also check that the person has not deliberately made themselves homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
These restrictions can make it difficult for those with financial or mental health problems, or who may have left previous accommodation because of problems or moved to a different area, to access homelessness services.
The removal of the current duty on local authorities to assess whether a homelessness application is intentional will come into effect later this year.
Further details of that and plans to remove the requirement for people facing homelessness to demonstrate a connection to a council area will be announced after discussions with councils.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said the “positive changes” would “reduce unnecessary barriers” and ensure more could access the right support when they need it.
CAS spokesperson Eilidh McIvor said: “Citizens Advice Scotland has pushed for these changes from the Scottish Government because they will help in the fight against homelessness.
“Scotland’s Citizen’s Advice network helps hundreds of thousands of people each year and we see first-hand how these rules can deny people experiencing housing crisis from accessing any support at all.”
Wednesday’s announcement by the Scottish Government follows the recommendations of its Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group and a public consultation on the proposals.
Announcing the new policies, housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Scotland has some of the strongest homelessness rights in the world and these changes to the law will allow more people to benefit from the support available.
“We want to make sure that anyone facing homelessness is supported into permanent, settled accommodation that meets their needs as quickly as possible.
“We are working with organisations and partners on the front line to tackle rough sleeping and cut down the time people spend in emergency temporary accommodation.
“Crucially, we are listening to those with experience to make sure that we address the root causes of homelessness.
“This is part of our wider action plan, backed by £50 million, which sets out the steps we will take to end homelessness for good.”