8. Preventing & Addressing Homelessness
8.1 The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 places a statutory duty on each local authority to carry out an assessment of homelessness in its area and to prepare and submit to Ministers, a strategy (as part of the LHS) for the prevention and alleviation of homelessness. The Scottish Government guidance on prevention of homelessness can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/274719/0082198.pdf.
8.2 Any approach taken to address homelessness should be underpinned by robust, accurate and up to date evidence on the extent and nature of homelessness. This should consist of an overall homelessness figure, broken down by age, gender and household composition, the reason for homelessness and the person's location. Homelessness can be disproportionately affected by gender and age, including those affected by domestic abuse, leaving prison or another type of supported accommodation.
8.3 Local Authorities should work closely with partners, such as Registered Social Landlords and Private Sector Landlords, to ensure that collaboration results in a positive and effective contribution being made to the homelessness agenda at a local level. The main focus should be on the prevention of homelessness before it occurs, potentially through the use of the housing options approach: www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/homeless.
8.4 A joined up approach to planning for known milestones is important and particularly relevant for Looked after Children and those leaving prison, Here, a change in circumstances can be anticipated, but a lack of planning and available provision can lead to homelessness. Individuals at risk should be identified early and through partnership working, effective housing provision put in place together with all relevant housing related services, to provide the support required.
8.5 Local authorities should be aware of the Scottish Housing Regulator's Housing Options and Homelessness Thematic Inquiry and the need to consider the recommendations and identify where action may be needed. Guidance (developed by the Scottish Government, CoSLA, ALACHO and local authorities) will assist local authorities in their approaches to housing options and the prevention of homelessness.
Temporary and Supported Accommodation - Impact of Welfare Reform
8.6 Welfare Reform has the potential to impact significantly on homelessness. All changes that are made by the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP), should be taken into account when making decisions at local authority level in relation to temporary and supported accommodation arrangements.
8.7 Over a period of time, the use of hostels has diminished in favour of other forms of supported accommodation. However, in certain circumstances there is a role for hostel accommodation and an assessment of need for this type of accommodation may be required, particularly in light of the potential impacts from welfare reform.
8.8 Consideration should also be given to the revision of the shared room rate and the implications this may have for people under the age of 35.
a) Focus on prevention and the consolidation of the Housing Options approach. The shift towards prevention is key in reducing the impact of budget constraints and to tackling persistent inequality.
b) Identify and explain the appropriate support provision that is in place or being considered, to help those already homeless and those at threat of homelessness. This should include a particular focus on how the requirements of the Housing Support Duty are being addressed: www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0042/00423606.pdf.
c) Make clear links to the outcomes set out in the Scottish Social Housing Charter: www.scottishhousingregulator.gov.uk/what-we-do/how-we-regulate/scottish-social-housing-charter.
d) Give consideration to the accommodation needs of people under the age of 35, due to the revision of the shared room rate.
e) Give consideration to the impact of Welfare Reform on the provision of temporary and supported accommodation and where hostel provision is used, there should be a clear strategy for its future use.
f) Where appropriate, link agreed LHS actions to those agreed at the Housing Options Hubs, referring to good practice as appropriate.