Homelessness prevention efforts must be backed by funding, report concludes
Efforts to end homelessness must be backed by adequate funding, an expert group has told the Scottish Government.
New duties are expected to be placed on health, justice and education bodies in a bid to the issue in the forthcoming Housing Bill, but such measures will only be successful if properly resourced, the group said.
The Homelessness Prevention Task & Finish Group, co-chaired by the Scottish Government and Cosla, was set up in 2022. It was co-delivered by charities Crisis and Cyrenians.
Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, said the proposals in the new bill could signal the “beginning of the end of homelessness”.
He added: “The measures proposed by the Scottish Government to prevent homelessness could be transformative. But to work properly, they need to be backed up with adequate resourcing and the support local authorities and public services so desperately need.
“We know what causes homelessness, and we know how to prevent it. People working in our public services can play a key role in helping to prevent homelessness, but to do that they will need support, through resourcing and through training, to help them identify the red flags that show someone could be at risk of housing crisis.”
The Housing Bill is expected to be lodged in the Scottish Parliament before the end of the year, having been announced in last year’s programme for government. As well as the homelessness prevention duty, it is expected to include stronger protectors for tenants and a requirement for social landlords to have a domestic abuse policy.
The publication of the expert group’s report follows statistics released yesterday indicating increases in homelessness, temporary accommodation and rough sleeping.
Housing minister Paul McLennan described the stats as “deeply worrying”.
He added: “Tackling homelessness is a key priority and it is critical that local government and other partners work with us to reach our shared goal of reversing these figures and delivering on our long term strategy for tackling homelessness.”
On the new report, Cyrenians’ chief executive Ewan Aitken said: “Homelessness in Scotland has reached crisis levels, and local authorities and the whole housing system are under huge pressure.
“But we can’t wait for that pressure to ease before prioritising prevention. We have to invest in prevention to reduce the number of people reaching crisis point, both to ease systemic pressures and to change people’s lives for the better.”