CIH Scotland calls for ‘whole system approach’ to ending homelessness

Gavin Smith

CIH Scotland has highlighted the progress made by local authorities in implementing Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs) but has warned that the impact of the pandemic and a range of external pressures including a lack of affordable housing and changing economic circumstances for households means that more work still needs to be done to transform services and end homelessness in Scotland.

A new report has been published today following an online survey issued to all 32 local authorities in April, for which a total of 30 responses were received.

CIH Scotland said the responses clearly showed a need for a longer term approach to tackling homelessness in Scotland, an approach which it said must be underpinned by multi-year funding and support from key partners, particularly health and social care, in order to be successful.

According to the report, progress with RRTPs and the impact of the pandemic varied across the country and solutions will need to be tailored to specific local circumstances. While some local authorities reported a reduction in homeless presentations, there are significant issues with temporary accommodation backlogs across the country, including an increasing reliance on B&B accommodation despite efforts to reduce this in line with RRTP ambitions and the extension of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order (UAO).

Access to appropriate, affordable housing options in the social and private sector remains a key concern and barrier to moving households out of temporary accommodation. It is not yet clear what the longer term impact of the pandemic may be in terms of increased evictions when restrictions are lifted, long term economic uncertainty for low income households and changing expectations around indoor and outdoor space for working, studying and socialising.

Gavin Smith, vice-chair of the CIH Scotland board, said: “We’d like to thank all of the local authorities that supported and provided extensive contributions to this area of policy work. The strength and scope of input by councils demonstrates the positive progress being made to address homelessness and promote enhanced housing options but the recommendations show there is still much more to do.

“With the number of households in temporary accommodation increasing, and rising pressure and expectations on local authorities and their partners, the timing could not have been better. I hope this publication enhances the importance of Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and provides a clear focus on the resources and other measures needed to deliver the change needed at a local level.”

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