New recommendations to ensure the commitment to eradicate rough sleeping is met have been set out by the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group. The recommendations have all been accepted in principle by the Scottish Government, and build on the group’s earlier advice to tackle rough sleeping over the winter period.
The measures include a national system of rapid rehousing, involving integrated support from frontline outreach services and local authorities. This will include moving to a ‘Housing First’ model for those with most complex needs – where people move straight into a permanent, settled home rather than temporary accommodation.
In December, £328,000 was invested to support additional capacity for night shelters and extra staff to help get more people into accommodation over winter. The Scottish Government will now provide a further £150,000 to continue to provide some services to the summer, while the latest recommendations are taken forward.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “As we come out of a particularly bad winter period, the action group’s work so far has been vital in ensuring front-line staff are supported and that people are helped to move into safe and warm places to stay. Additional funding will allow the work that has taken place in our main cities to continue while we take the group’s hard work forward.
“I was extremely impressed by the fast and effective work of organisations supporting those sleeping rough during last week’s unprecedented and extreme winter weather and want to thank everyone involved for the work and commitment they have shown. It is now important that we build on this good work and these latest recommendations provide a blueprint to do that and reach our national priority to eradicate rough sleeping for good.
“The group’s recommendations focus on improving advice and support for those sleeping rough, and ensuring that housing, funding and services are directed at those who need them most.
“They will play a vital role in meeting our commitment to end homelessness and transform temporary accommodation, backed by our £50 million fund – which is why we have accepted them all in principle, and will now work closely with partners to implement.”
Action group chair and chief executive of Crisis UK, Jon Sparkes said: “Nobody in Scotland should have to endure the danger and indignity of sleeping rough, and these recommendations show what is needed to prevent people from being forced to live on the streets.
These include providing immediate access to permanent housing for people who are sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness, such as people leaving a state institution, such as care or prison, and giving frontline staff the power to make informed decisions based on the needs of each individual.
“The members of the action group have gone above and beyond to dedicate themselves to bringing forward the right recommendations that will have the biggest impact on the way people sleeping rough can access and receive services. The group members have engaged colleagues across the sector, reviewed international evidence on what works, and listened to people from across the country who have experience of homelessness.
“We can end rough sleeping in Scotland. Other countries and cities around the world have done it, so we know it’s possible. With the right political will and momentum, we can make this a reality in Scotland too.”
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and action group chair Jon Sparkes announced the additional funding and recommendations on a visit to Bethany Christian Trust, which received £27,000 winter funding.
The group will next make recommendations focused on transforming temporary accommodation, by Spring 2018, and ending homelessness for good, by Summer 2018.