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Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Ambitious plan aims to position Scotland as world-leader in ending homelessness

Written by The Press Association

Scotland could become a “world-leader in ending homelessness” under a new plan to end rough sleeping, charities have said.

The Scottish Government said it will shift towards getting homeless people into long-term and settled accommodation as part of their Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan.

Described as a “historic opportunity to make a real difference”, it aims to not only rehouse those on the streets quickly but to prioritise prevention of homelessness in the first place.

The plan was launched by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell at visit to homelessness charity Cyrenians in Edinburgh.

It includes all 70 recommendations made by the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.

Ms Campbell said: “Everyone needs a safe, warm place to call home. It’s more than a place to live it’s where we feel secure, have roots and a sense of belonging.

“The causes of homelessness can be complex and that’s why all services need to be joined up. Working together we can end homelessness for good.

“The First Minister made a commitment in this year’s Programme for Government to end rough sleeping and homelessness, and this is what will get us there.

“The plan builds on the many changes in homelessness and affordable housing we have delivered in recent years, including more than £3 billion to deliver 35,000 homes for social rent and the multi-million-pound Ending Homelessness Together Fund.”

Jon Sparkes (pictured), chief executive of Crisis, said: “This is an ambitious plan that firmly positions Scotland as a world-leader in ending homelessness.

“The turnaround has been swift and the approach is bold but achievable if the commitment is shared across local government, housing associations and homelessness charities.

“The plan has people at its heart and makes clear that the best approach is to prevent homelessness in the first place, however, we need to see a prevention duty in law for all public bodies as well as an ambitious set of targets which demonstrates that homelessness has been ended for more people.

“However, overall this plan presents us with a chance to get behind bold and transformative reforms, and see Scotland lead the way once again.

“It is a unique opportunity to get policies and services right for homeless people, but also to look beyond homelessness into the wider systemic issues of inequality and poverty to bring an end to the injustice of homelessness in Scotland once and for all.”

Gavin Yates, the chief executive of the charity Homeless Action Scotland, welcomed the report as “a useful tool to help judge progress” but warned long-term funding commitments were required to “remove the stain of homelessness from Scottish society”.

Mr Yates added: “The key to change is to ensure that all the participants in making change, work together.

“The Government, local authorities, housing associations and NHS and health and social care partnerships need proper joined-up planning and crucially need to work hand in glove with voluntary sector partners to make the change needed on the ground.

“For third sector bodies to make their contribution they need security of funding beyond the one-year deals that many face.

“We have an opportunity for change and we hope that when this is debated in Holyrood on Thursday that we see a real appetite to make homelessness a relic of days past.”

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations chief executive Sally Thomas said: “The publication of this action plan gives us a historic opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people across Scotland facing homelessness.

“We have the political will, we have funding available and we have key housing agencies in housing ready to deliver.

“There is an appetite to do better and move Scotland towards a fairer, more equal society.”

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP branded some present laws “inadequate”.

He said: “We must ensure that homelessness is prevented in the first place and this cannot be achieved by relying on the good work of councils and charities.

“Scottish ministers must review current inadequate laws, such as the Private Housing (Tenancies) Act, which still allows for the eviction of tenants on eighteen statutory grounds including when they have done absolutely nothing wrong, and should not find themselves losing their homes.

“Until then the new action plan cannot be realised if people continue to be threatened and forced into homelessness.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Crisis.