Prevention of Homelessness Duties - A Joint Scottish Government and COSLA Consultation

Closes 31 Mar 2022

Opened 17 Dec 2021

Overview

Ending homelessness is everyone's business. 

Imagine a world where homelessness is rare, brief and unlikely to happen again. It might be difficult to imagine, but it is not impossible. In most cases, homelessness is preventable.

Scotland has strong housing rights for those experiencing homelessness, but we know that experiences of homelessness can go beyond the need for housing and can involve a range of unmet needs. It has been identified that we can do more at an earlier stage to prevent someone reaching a housing crisis that results in the trauma and indignity of homelessness. That is what the proposals in this consultation intend to address, underpinned by new legal duties on public bodies for the prevention of homelessness, which we intend to take forward through a Housing Bill introduced in year 2 of the Parliament.

At the request of Scottish Government, Crisis convened the Prevention Review Group, chaired by Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick to develop recommendations for legal duties on Scottish local authorities and wider public bodies to prevent homelessness, and how these might be best implemented. The recommendations in the final report of the Prevention Review Group were published in early 2021, and provide the framework for this consultation document.

This consultation paper invites your views in two broad areas:

  1. Introducing new duties (through a Housing Bill expected in 2023) on a range of public bodies and landlords to prevent homelessness, particularly by asking and acting on a risk of homelessness, as well as responsibilities relating to strategic and joint planning.
  2. Changing existing homelessness legislation to ensure homelessness is prevented at an earlier stage, including a proposal to extend the duty to take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness up to six months before, to maximise the housing options available to people and to prescribe what reasonable steps may include.

For more details on the background and aims of this consultation please read the consultation paper.

Why your views matter

Our aim is to introduce legislation in the upcoming Housing Bill in year two of this Parliament, which leads to system change and person centred and trauma-informed service responses to meet individual needs to better prevent homelessness, while providing greater choice and control for those at risk of homelessness. 

There is already much good practice by local authorities, wider public bodies and landlords and the third sector that takes place in preventing homelessness, including through joint working with their partners. This joint working has been enhanced in some areas through responses to coronavirus (COVID-19) since March 2020. This consultation offers the chance to give views on how we can improve practice around joint working on prevention through legislative change to ensure consistency of delivery across Scotland, while recognising local circumstances and decision making. It also asks for reflections on how new duties would change organisational practice, and what the resource implications of that may be.

We want to ensure that this consultation and any future legislative proposals are informed by considerations of equality and diversity and human rights. People who face social, income and health inequalities are disproportionately impacted by homelessness and may face further inequalities related to their age, race, disability, sex, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics.

In this consultation we are asking questions based around the full package of proposed recommendations from the Prevention Review Group, in the spirit with which the recommendations were made.

While you are encouraged to respond to all of the questions, we recognise that not all contributors will wish to respond to each question. We have endeavoured to make it clear where input from specific contributors is encouraged, for example, those working in health and social care, those with lived experience of homelessness. However, in light of the presentation of a package of proposals mentioned above, it may be helpful to consider when responding whether you believe this feels like the right package of proposals, as most will be dependent on the delivery of the whole package or at least on other specific recommendations being implemented.

Give us your views

Interests

  • Children and Families
  • Communities and Third Sector
  • Education
  • Equality, Welfare and Rights
  • Public Sector
  • Health and Social Care
  • Housing and Regeneration
  • Law and Order