Scotland has among the strongest rights in Europe for people facing homelessness. Reducing homelessness is a vital part of tackling poverty.
We are developing support services for those who are already homeless or at risk of becoming so. We are also taking steps to increase housing supply. As a result, the number of people reaching the point of homelessness has fallen in recent years.
We are reducing and addressing homelessness by:
- helping councils develop and improve homeless prevention activities through Housing Options Hubs
- providing guidance for councils and other organisations to ensure consistency in services
- collecting mandatory data on the use of temporary accommodation to improve the quality of information we hold on length of stay, and help shape future policy
- monitoring progress on prevention activity and examining the barriers faced by those with the most complex needs, including rough sleepers, through the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group
- working with social and health care services to understand the wider context that leads to homelessness through the Health and Homelessness cross sector group
- supporting homeowners with mortgage difficulties through the Home Owners' Support Fund and providing financial support to organisations helping homeless and vulnerable people find homes through the Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme
- working to mitigate the UK Government's changes to housing benefit through the Temporary Accommodation and Supported Accommodation sub-group
We are also:
- investing £3 billion to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by 2021,
- working with local authorities to build record numbers of council houses, and
- abolishing the Right to Buy to protect up to 15,500 social homes from sale.
Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 a person should be treated as homeless, even if they have accommodation, if it would not be reasonable for them to continue to stay in it.
Councils have a legal duty to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They do this by:
- providing information and advice
- offering temporary or permanent accommodation if circumstances warrant it
Homeless applications have fallen by 36% since 2008. Statistics for 2015 and 2016 show homelessness has been falling in Scotland with applications down 4%, and assessments down 2%, compared to the previous year.
Bills and legislation
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced changes to existing homelessness legislation. It established the right to review a homelessness decision, and introduced a duty on registered social landlords (RSLs) to assist local authorities in rehousing homeless people.
The Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 outlined the provision that by 2012 anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own must be entitled to settled accommodation (a council or housing association tenancy or private rental).
This amended the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which defines the rights of homeless people and was enshrined in law in 2012 with the Homeless (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012. In 2012 the Scottish Parliament also passed secondary legislation on housing support regulations, requiring local authorities to assess the housing support needs of homeless applicants.
Telephone: 0300 244 4000
Scottish Government Housing and Social Justice Directorate