The positive impact of legislation that entitles all unintentionally homeless people to accommodation has been welcomed by the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, following a review of its progress.
However, in a letter to the Scottish Government, the Committee outlined its concern that the legislation, introduced in 2003, to be met in 2012, which abolished ‘priority need’ might be behind a rise in intentionally homeless decisions being made by local authorities.
The Committee is asking the Scottish Government to report on the reasons behind the variation in intentionally homeless decisions being taken by local authorities as a matter of urgency.
Convener of the Committee, Maureen Watt MSP said:
“There is universal agreement that homelessness has no place in today’s society. Our Committee has heard that Scotland is implementing some of the most progressive legislation in Europe to tackle homelessness.
“We were particularly pleased to note the positive impact the introduction of the housing options approach is having in providing support to vulnerable people. This approach is to be welcomed and the Committee would like to see best practice guidance applied across Scotland.
“However, after examining the impact of the legislation in more detail, the Committee has highlighted a number of issues to the Scottish Government, including the increase in number of intentionally homeless decisions and the wide variation in the number of these decisions being made across Scotland.
“Whilst there may be a valid reason for this, our Committee would be concerned if some people are not receiving the support they should be.”
The Committee’s letter to the Scottish Government also asks for an update on:
- any potential impact on the housing options approach if there are any further changes under the welfare reform agenda;
- how the Scottish Government is supporting local authorities in alleviating the pressure placed on temporary accommodation; and
- how much financial support will be provided for Housing Options Hubs in the coming financial year?
The Committee previously undertook an inquiry on the 2012 homelessness commitment, which is a legal commitment that those assessed as homeless are entitled to accommodation.
This inquiry examined the progress of the implementation process.