Housing Information and Advice Services
55. Local authorities have duties under section 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 to secure that advice and information about the prevention of homelessness and any services is available free of charge to any person in the authority's area. The Homeless Persons Advice and Assistance (Scotland) Regulations 2002 set out the types of advice to be provided and the Code discusses these requirements. The guidance requires that local authorities ensure the provision meets the standards set out in the Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers.
56. Even if local authorities no longer retain housing stock or perform a landlord function they should ensure that the necessary standard of advice and information is available and provide signposting and referrals to it.
57. Joint working to develop Common Housing Registers is likely to enhance communications between local authorities and RSLs and encourage the partnership approach necessary for effective homelessness prevention, particularly where communication links are not currently robust or delivering the best outcomes for people facing homelessness.
58. Independent sources of advice and information can be particularly beneficial in preventing homelessness as people often feel more comfortable in approaching non-statutory services to discuss difficult or embarrassing problems. The local authority should ensure that any independent advice, information and advocacy services have the required competencies and knowledge to deliver services successfully, preferably by meeting the Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers. Efforts to develop and maintain signposting and referrals to good quality independent services are likely to lead to enhanced outcomes and the development of an appropriate outcomes monitoring framework will be worthwhile. A list of approved money advice agencies, providing impartial money advice is available and other agencies likely to provide impartial housing advice include Citizens Advice and Shelter.