Summary and Key Messages
6. The Homelessness Prevention Advisory Group 1 contributed to the development of this guidance. The Group, which met four times from June 2008, has adopted the following definition of homelessness prevention:
"For the purposes of this guidance and central to our definition of homelessness prevention, we consider that; following a competent and person-centred assessment of the risks of homelessness, the approaches and activities undertaken to secure the most effective, appropriate and sustainable housing outcome for the person concerned should be deemed as acceptable prevention activity".
7. To reinforce and underpin the importance of the information contained within the guidance the Group agreed that the following key messages summed up the approach necessary for success:
- "The prevention of homelessness does not happen in isolation from other issues. An exclusive focus on homelessness may not yield the most efficient results; rather a holistic or systemic approach is needed." 2
- Alleviating homelessness is an expensive business both in monetary and societal terms; the principles of "spending to save" are proven in respect of homelessness prevention.
- Homelessness prevention is a corporate responsibility and must be embraced by all parts of the local authority and, where relevant, their local partners including Registered Social Landlords ( RSLs) and Health Services.
- Prevention in this context is not an alternative to increasing housing supply. Investing in housing supply is a key joint priority for the Scottish Government and COSLA . However, even if we had surplus housing in every sector there would still be a need for an integrated prevention approach to counter the corrosive and damaging effects that homelessness can have on children, adults and communities.
- Homelessness prevention activity complements work already underway to improve services for children and families and others with particular needs through introduction of the Early Years Framework, Getting it Right for Every Child, the Anti-Poverty Framework and Equally Well, the report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities.
- Effective and sustainable homelessness prevention activity will only take place when partners work in tandem to tackle the causes.
- Pro-active and early intervention, based on a well understood knowledge of the local triggers of homelessness, will have more impact than traditional re-active responses to homelessness.
- Housing Options interviews and Personal Housing Plans are likely to provide earlier opportunities to avert later housing crisis.
- Homelessness prevention activity should focus on providing sustainable housing outcomes based on person-centred assessment and planning measures.