HOUSING: MINISTER PROMISES £50 MILLION TO TACKLE HOMELESSNESS AND ROUGH SLEEPING

By Bill Heaney

A progress report on  “Ending Homelessness Together: Updated action plan, October 2020” has been promised to the Scottish Parliament by Housing Minister Shona Robison.

Ms Robison, pictured right below, told MSPs at Holyrood this week: “That will be one year on from the publication of the updated plan, which renewed our commitment to ending homelessness and rough sleeping and placed a greater emphasis on prevention.

“We remain focused on a rapid rehousing and housing first approach, and we will invest an additional £50 million over the current parliamentary session to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

“We are also committed to a new homelessness prevention duty and to the removal of night shelters. Our ambitions will be aided by a new deal for tenants in the private rented sector and the commitment to the delivery of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.”

At least one council is investing in its housing first programme by bringing in specialist support staff and other organisations.

“For example, the council is funding positions to deliver gender-specific and youth-specific support as well as community social workers who will be embedded within the housing options service and will support housing first functions.

To date, the housing first programme has been very successful, with 87 people starting housing first tenancies and receiving the tailored support that is required to meet their needs. Of those, 86 per cent are maintaining their tenancies.”

However, Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart  was not content with this. He said: “In 2018, the First Minister pledged to invest in and expand housing first by supporting 800 people over a three-year period but, as of 31 July, only 540 people had received support through the pathfinder programme. What is the Scottish Government doing to speed up the roll-out across Scotland?”

The Minister told him: “As part of local authorities’ rapid rehousing transition plans, they considered the development and implementation of housing first.

“Information that was gathered from the plans in 2020 indicated that 29 of the 32 local authorities are developing a housing first programme. We will certainly continue to work with local government to ensure that the issue continues to be a priority.”

Dumbarton has a major mix of private, rented and social housing. Picture by Sean Davenport

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