COSLA comment on homelessness

COSLA's Community Wellbeing spokesperson Cllr Whitham commented:

"Councils recognise stable housing is critical to families and individuals. Getting it wrong means children’s performance at school suffers, people’s health can be poor and the chances of maintaining employment are lessened. Because of this councils take our responsibilities around homelessness seriously.

"Along with the Scottish Government, we recognise there are differing approaches to Housing Options across Scotland.  These are local initiatives aimed at preventing homelessness of those at risk. They help take action in time. The approaches differ partly because what’s available, and how you access it differ from place to place, and also because the degree of need varies too. To make sense of it all we are trying to standardise best practice where possible and the way that its effectiveness is reported.  A Housing Options toolkit will be available later this year to consolidate this.  

"Shelter's ‘Getting Behind the Statistics’ publication, from January this year, highlights that the Housing Options approach is still in its relatively early stages and confirmed they looked forward to seeing the impact of the housing options toolkit.

"We know there are variations across Councils in the proportions of those who go through the housing options process and are, or are not, recorded as homeless. There are good reasons why this happens. Some people will either return to or remain in the house they were in, some we simply lose contact with as they find other solutions to the problems they are facing.  

"Councils are fully aware of their duty to help those in housing need. This includes our statutory duty to investigate and to provide people with any necessary temporary accommodation until that investigation is concluded.   

"We have no evidence to suggest there is either a widespread failure to comply with this duty or that anything other than a small number of people have been affected. Where this does happen and people are facing severe difficulties, we would deal with the matter directly but do also encourage engagement with the many excellent advice and advocacy services available across Scotland.  

"COSLA, ALACHO and many others across the housing sector are actively involved with the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group - looking at acute rough sleeping, homelessness and temporary accommodation – we expect recommendations around improvements to Housing Options to feature in the groups findings later this year.

"Findings from the Local Government Committee’s inquiry on homelessness, the rapid work and longer term recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, will feed in to the ongoing work of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group - this group provides strategic oversight and direction to work of the Scottish Government and local authorities to tackle and prevent homelessness."

Article published: 
Fri, 09/02/2018 - 12:00