Following a year-long inquiry into the causes and long-term solutions to homelessness in Scotland, the Local Government and Communities Committee, of which Kenneth Gibson MSP is one of the seven members, has now published a series of recommendations in its report on homelessness in Scotland.
Very few countries in the world have successfully eradicated homelessness, which can arise from a wider range of issues including relationship breakdown, substance misuse, mental health issues, childhood trauma and more recently, UK welfare reform. The most recent SNP Government figures show that homelessness remains a problem in Scotland, with more than 34,800 homeless applications made to local authorities last year.
One of the recommendations outlined in the report is to roll out a Scottish version of Housing First, the housing model which aims to quickly provide a permanent home to those in need, rather than going through several levels of temporary accommodation. It has proven to be highly successful in Finland, where the Committee visited in October as part of their evidence-gathering.
Other key recommendations from the committee include:
Statutory standards set for temporary accommodation
That the Code of Guidance on homelessness is reviewed and updated
Seeking reassurance that Housing Options guidance has been implemented properly and that gatekeeping is being tackled
These recommendations were made following extensive evidence-gathering, including visits to Streetwork in Edinburgh where committee members met with staff and users of their crisis service; the Simon Community in Glasgow where they talked to staff and women who are in emergency and temporary accommodation; the Legal Services Agency in Glasgow which provides legal advice to vulnerable people, and Churches Action for the Homeless (CATH) in Perth.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“Homelessness is one of the most complex and enduring challenges of modern society, and I believe these recommendations will mean far fewer people in future will have to suffer the human tragedy of homelessness.
“As a Committee member, it was humbling to welcome six formerly homeless people to Holyrood to give evidence as part of our investigation. By sharing their stories, they will help other people facing homelessness.
“After hearing directly from people who are homeless and those who have experienced sleeping on the streets or sofa-surfing, as well as service providers on the front-line, it was clear that further action is needed.
“Housing is a basic human right and everyone should have a roof over their heads. We hope these recommendations will go some way towards ensuring that becomes the reality for more people and families in the future.”
To read the report in full, please click here.