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01/06/13 12:56

New support for those unintentionally homeless

Local authorities to give housing support duty to homeless households.

Homeless households are to be given more support thanks to a new duty on local authorities which came into force on 1 June.

The new housing support duty legally requires all local authorities in Scotland to give support to those who are unintentionally homeless and believed to be in need of extra assistance.

Households can be given support by local authorities on everything from budgeting to coping with isolation in order to help them sustain tenancies and stop repeat homelessness occurring.

The introduction of the housing support duty follows on from the Scottish Government’s achievement of its 2012 target to offer settled accommodation to everyone assessed as unintentionally homeless by local authorities.

The new duty is supported by guidance for local authorities.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and the introduction of the housing support duty will help vulnerable households remain in settled accommodation.

“In December 2012 landmark legislation came into force in Scotland which has put us at the forefront in Europe in establishing housing rights for homeless people, but as well as providing housing we need a concerted effort to prevent homelessness before it occurs and this new duty can help with that.

“We know that there will be some people who need extra support to move on from homelessness and to stop it happening again, such as young people who may be getting their first tenancy.

“We have already seen excellent work by councils and their partners in tackling homelessness in Scotland in recent years. Our latest set of statistics –show a significant fall in homelessness applications – providing proof that measures to tackle and prevent homelessness are making a real difference.

“The Scottish Government’s Housing Options Approach funding programme, backed by investment of approximately £650,000, has helped local authorities embrace a preventative approach. And we have committed a further £300,000 over the next two years to ensure this vital work continues.

“It is a key priority for this Government to ensure this work continues to safeguard people from the social costs of homelessness. We want people in Scotland to be able to access and sustain settled accommodation.”

Jim Hayton, Chair of Housing Support Guidance Working Group said:

“The prevention of homelessness is one of the foremost challenges currently facing local authorities and their partners. Councils are well aware of the costs which can result from failing to support homeless households and of the value of effective preventative measures.

“Significant progress has been made in recent years, but there is still a way to go. That is why councils responded positively to the new duty to assess needs and support homeless and potentially homeless households where appropriate, and have played a leading role in the preparation of this non statutory guidance to augment the Regulations introduced in June 2013.”