Scotland has made huge progress in tackling homelessness. In fact, some of the action taken has been truly world leading. We have seen a long term decrease in homelessness in Scotland but we are also aware of worrying signs of an increase in rough sleeping.
We’re not prepared to see the progress made undone. That’s why we’ve set a new goal to end rough sleeping for good and are taking new action to make that a reality.
We have established a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group to lead the way in eradicating homelessness.
The group made key recommendations for last winter, which were adopted by the SNP government and backed with total investment of £328,000 including £262,000 from the Scottish Government.
Recommendations included increasing emergency accommodation and flexible provision in areas with the greatest numbers of rough sleepers; boosting multi-agency partnership working; and making budgets available to front line workers to meet immediate housing needs.
In March, the group made its recommendations on ending rough sleeping for good, including moving to a ‘Housing First’ approach. For those with the most complex needs, this would mean moving straight into a permanent, settled home rather than temporary accommodation.
The group has also now made recommendations on transforming temporary accommodation, which have been accepted by the Scottish Government. Some of the recommendations will require devolution of funding from the UK government so the Scottish Government will work with local authorities to explore these further.
The group’s final recommendations, on moving to a rapid rehousing approach have now been published. In total they have 70 recommendations that have been accepted in full or in principle by the Scottish Government.
We are investing £50 million in a new ‘Ending Homelessness Together’ fund.
The new Fund will support anti-homelessness initiatives and pilot new innovative solutions to drive faster change and transform temporary accommodation.
We are investing £21 million in a ‘Housing First’ and rapid rehousing approach – making permanent housing a first response, rather than last, for people with complex needs.
We want time spent in unsuitable temporary accommodation to be as short as possible.
We have reduced the time that households with pregnant women or children can spend in B&B accommodation from 14 to 7 days and 80 per cent of homeless households with children are given temporary accommodation in social rented housing.
We will introduce a Substance Misuse Treatment Strategy.
This will be a new combined approach, recognising the many shared underlying causes and similarities in treatment services.
We are committed to delivering 50,000 more affordable homes in this Scottish Parliament term.
In our decade in power we have now delivered more than 76,500 affordable homes, including 52,500 council or housing association homes. We’re committed to delivering 50,000 affordable homes between 2016 and 2021.
And we’ve kickstarted the first council house building programme in decades, with over 9,200 built since 2009.
The Scottish Government is spending over £115 million this year mitigating Tory welfare cuts.
No one in Scotland has to pay the Tory Bedroom Tax and we’re committed to scrapping it once and for all. We have also extended the Scottish Welfare Fund to mitigate the Westminster decision to remove Housing Benefit for 18-21 year olds.
We believe that Universal Credit – which will replace a number of benefits including housing benefit – is fundamentally flawed and that the roll-out should be halted. In areas where it has been introduced, we have seen increases in debt and rent arrears – putting people at risk of homelessness.
Using limited flexibilities available to the Scottish Government, we have taken steps to allow more frequent payments of Universal Credit and for the housing element to be paid direct to landlords.