8. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 placed a statutory requirement on local authorities to prepare strategies for preventing and alleviating homelessness. The first round of Homelessness Strategies was produced in 2003. Most covered a three year period and have since been refreshed and updated.
9. Local authorities are no longer required to submit discrete homelessness strategies to Ministers covering their activity to prevent homelessness; although they may choose to do so as a matter of local policy. Rather, the Local Housing Strategy will in future be the main strategic document incorporating housing, homelessness and support issues. Developing a single strategy framework assists in rationalising the reporting requirements of local government, however the statutory duty on local authorities under the 2001 Housing (Scotland) Act to address these areas remains. In many respects the duty to prevent homelessness as 2012 approaches has become more important than ever.
10. This guidance, which has been agreed between the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) and issued jointly, supplements Chapter 2 - Prevention of Homelessness within the Code of Guidance on Homelessness. The additional guidance was developed within a changing context in national policy direction and is in accordance with the revised relationship between central and local government established as a consequence of the Concordat.
11. The guidance describes the action that local authorities should take to prevent homelessness arising in the first place and then recurring. Part II of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (as amended by the 2001 Act) sets out the powers and duties of local authorities in dealing with applications from people seeking help on the grounds that they are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Section 37(1) requires local authorities to have regard to Guidance issued by Scottish Ministers in the exercise of their homelessness functions. This addition to the Code provides guidance on advice and information that should be available locally to people and outlines some new ideas for preventing homelessness not previously covered in the Code of Guidance.