Homelessness – working groups

The Scottish Government/COSLA 2012 Steering Group met in November with Housing Minister Keith Brown in attendance. The Group is aiming to help maintain momentum towards the target that all those assessed as unintentionally homeless households by local authorities will be entitled to settled accommodation by 2012, through the phasing out of the ‘priority need ‘ category and extending the same housing rights to all in this situation.  Statistics published in August indicated that 88% of unintentionally homeless households in Scotland were assessed as priority need in 2010/11, which showed further progress to the target with some local authorities already at 100%.

Preventing homelessness before it occurs and the principles of early intervention will be crucial to the achievement of the target and the Scottish Government has made enabling funding to help local authorities promote the housing options approach. This has led to the establishment of five regional housing options hubs involving all 32 local authorities, which are working to action plans with partners to share practice and learning, achieve better value for money and to see how they can prevent homelessness and provide more options to households.

November 24th saw the first meeting of the Supported Accommodation Implementation Group (SAIG) chaired by Ken Milroy, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Foyer. The cross sector group has been established to develop proposals by November 2012 for the implementation of the recommendations of the Supported Accommodation Working Group, which reported in March 2011. The themes of the recommendations included funding, employability and models of practice and HSEU are represented on the Group. Additionally, the Scottish Government will be launching the consultation on introducing regulations in relation to housing support for homeless households (introduced in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010) in early 2012.

A cross sector Steering Group involving NHS, Scottish Government, COSLA and third sector representatives organised a successful event in August in Edinburgh to help re-invigorate the Health and Homelessness agenda. Standards have been in place in Health Boards since 2005 and one of the main actions arising from the event will be the establishment of a Health and Homelessness Leads Network in Health Boards to help implement Standards and make links to stakeholders in the housing and homelessness sector.