Background and Evidence

Image: Benjamin Brock


The Local Government and Communities Committee has agreed to undertake work on the issue of homelessness as part of its work programme. The Committee undertook fact-finding visits in February and March 2017 in relation to homelessness services in advance of formal oral evidence sessions in March 2017. During the visits, the Committee explored how people access homelessness services through the Housing Options approach and heard from those at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing homelessness by visiting a homeless project providing support.

The Housing Options approach is an information and advice process that councils use when someone approaches them with a housing problem. The service focuses on people's personal circumstances, helping them to explore all options including council housing, housing association homes and private rented accommodation. It can also provide support for underlying issues that can underpin housing problems such as debt, family breakup and mental health problems. The aim is to  assist the individual with issues from an early stage in the hope of avoiding a housing crisis.

The Committee then explored these issues during formal evidence sessions and also heard from people who specialise in providing support to those wanting to access homelessness services. The Committee explored the underlying reasons which can lead to a person seeking homelessness services, and whether homelessness prevention services are effectively tackling those underlying reasons for homelessness.


The Committee held two evidence sessions with stakeholders on 8 and 22 March 2017.

Wednesday 8 March 2017: Stakeholder Panel 1

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Adam Lang, Head of Communications and Policy, Shelter Scotland;
  • Tony Cain, Policy Manager, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers;
  • Lee Clark, Manager, Conflict Resolution Service, and Mark Kennedy, Manager, Homeless Prevention Service, Cyrenians;
  • Jan Williamson, Head of Services, Streetwork

Link to Papers for meeting on 8 March 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 8 March 2017

Wednesday 22 March 2017: Stakeholder Panel 2

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Margaret Ann Brünjes, Director, Glasgow Homelessness Network;
  • Eddie Nelson, Day Centre Manager, Churches Action for the Homeless;
  • Beth Reid, Policy Manager (Scotland), Crisis.

Link to Papers for meeting on 22 March 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 22 March 2017

Following these evidence sessions in March 2017, the Committee issued a wider call for views. The Committee considered the responses received before agreeing its next steps.

Call for Views

On 3 May 2017, the Committee launched a call for written evidence from all interested parties as part of its work on homelessness.

Organisations and individuals were invited to submit written evidence to the Committee setting out their views on homelessness, the reasons why people become homeless, what services are available and what can be done to help prevent homelessness.

Read the call for evidence.

Written Submissions

Read the written submissions received.

Summary of Written Submissions

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has produced a summary of the written submissions received. This can be found at the following link:

Following the closure of the call for written evidence, the Committee considered the submissions received and agreed to hold a number of evidence sessions with stakeholders in September, October and November 2017.

Oral Evidence: September, October and November 2017

Wednesday 20 September 2017: People with Lived Experience of Homelessness

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Saffron Rohan and Simone Smith;
  • Rhys Campbell, Thomas Lyon, Julie McCallagh and Emma Pearce.

Link to Papers for meeting on 20 September 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 20 September 2017

Wednesday 27 September 2017: Stakeholder Panel 1

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Bridget Curran, Glasgow Housing Options Steering Board;
  • Fiona King, Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager, Shelter Scotland;
  • Jules Oldham, Head of Policy and Operations, Homeless Action Scotland;
  • Dr Neil Hamlet, NHS Health Scotland.

Link to Papers for meeting on 27 September 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 27 September 2017

Following the meeting on 27 September 2017, Glasgow Housing Options Steering Board forwarded a copy of the Glasgow Housing Options Evaluation 2016 to the Committee:

Shelter Scotland also shared with the Committee its recommendations for action to the Scottish Government's Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group:

Wednesday 25 October 2017: Stakeholder Panels 2 and 3

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Cllr Kelly Parry, Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, and Nicola Dickie, Policy Manager, COSLA;
  • Patrick McKay, Operations Manager, Turning Point Scotland;
  • Dr Adam Burley, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, The Access Point;
  • Lorraine McGrath, Chief Executive, Simon Community Scotland

and then from—

  • Joe Connolly, Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum;
  • Paul Brown, Chief Executive, Legal Services Agency;
  • Nicky Brown, Homelessness and Housing Support Senior Manager, City of Edinburgh Council; 
  • Jamie Stewart, Housing Development Officer, Scottish Refugee Council.

Link to Papers for meeting on 25 October 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 25 October 2017

COSLA and the Legal Services Agency provided follow-up correspondence to the evidence sessions on 25 October 2017:

Simon Community Scotland also provided details of Rough Sleepers and Vulnerable People's street census of begging undertaken on 20 May 2017, following up the evidence session on 25 October 2017:

Wednesday 1 November 2017: Scottish Government

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government and Housing, David Signorini, Head of Better Homes, Catriona MacKean, Head of Housing Support and Homelessness, and Marion Gibbs, Team Leader, Homelessness, Scottish Government.

Link to Papers for meeting on 1 November 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 1 November 2017

The Minister for Local Government and Housing wrote to the Committee on 13 November 2017 with follow-up information from the evidence session on 1 November 2017:

Further Correspondence

The Minister for Local Government and Housing wrote to the Committee on 29 November 2017 in relation to recommendations on actions to minimize rough sleeping from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group:

The Minister for Local Government and Housing wrote to the Committee on 7 March 2018 in relation to rough sleeping:

Monday 2 October 2017: Fact-finding visit to Helsinki, Finland

The Committee visited Finland between 2 and 5 October 2017 to learn about how the Housing First policy as a national approach is tackling homelessness and how Finland has reduced homelessness through the use of this policy. The Committee met with the Ministry for the Environment, the Mayor of Helsinki, the Finnish Parliament Environment Committee, the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, and the Y-Foundation. It  also visited a supported housing facility for long-term homeless people in Espoo.

Read a summary of the Committee's fact-finding visit here:

Committee Report

The Committee's report was published on 12 February 2018:

The Scottish Government's response to the Committee's report was received on 17 April 2018:

Scottish Housing Regulator Report on Housing People who are Homeless in Glasgow

As referred to in the Scottish Government's response above, the Scottish Housing Regulator published a report into housing people who are homeless in Glasgow on 29 March 2018. The report is available at the following link:

Final Recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group

The Minister for Local Government and Housing wrote to the Committee on 27 June 2018 in relation to the final recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group:

Scottish Government's Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan

The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning wrote to the Committee on 27 November 2018 with details of the Scottish Government's Ending Homelessness Together: High Level Action Plan:


Fact-Finding Visits: February and March 2017

Wednesday 22 February: Edinburgh
Committee members visited Streetwork in Edinburgh and met with staff and users of their crisis service. The service provides accommodation and support services for people in housing crisis or who are facing sleeping rough.

Monday 28 February: Glasgow
Committee members visited the Simon Community in Glasgow and met with staff and women who are in emergency and temporary accommodation. Members also met with the Legal Services Agency to discuss issues in relation to the providing legal support to homeless people.

Monday 6 March: Perth
Committee members visited Churches Action for the Homeless (CATH) in Perth and meet with staff to discuss issues relating to homelessness in rural Perth and Kinross. Members also accompanied development workers from CATH’s Outreach and Floating Support teams to rural locations and met with service users.

Oral Evidence Sessions: March 2017

Wednesday 8 March
Stakeholder panel 1 (Shelter Scotland, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, Cyrenians, Streetwork).

Wednesday 22 March
Stakeholder panel 2 (Glasgow Homelessness Network, Churches Action for the Homeless, Crisis).

Oral Evidence Sessions: September, October and November 2017

Wednesday 20 September 2017
People with lived experience of homelessness

Wednesday 27 September 2017
Stakeholder panel 1 (Glasgow Housing Options Steering Board, Shelter Scotland, Homeless Action Scotland, NHS Health Scotland)

2 October to 5 October 2017 - Fact-finding visit to Finland

Wednesday 25 October 2017
Stakeholder panel 2 (COSLA, Turning Point Scotland, Dr Adam Burley, Simon Community Scotland)
Stakeholder panel 3 (Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum, Legal Services Agency, City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Refugee Council)

Wednesday 1 November 2017
Scottish Government


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