Aberdeenshire Council misses Gypsy/Travellers site compliance deadline but makes homelessness and services improvements

Aberdeenshire Council has missed another deadline for meeting the Scottish Government’s minimum standards at one of its sites for Gypsy/Travellers but has delivered service improvements for people who are homeless.

Aberdeenshire Council misses Gypsy/Travellers site compliance deadline but makes homelessness and services improvements

The Scottish Housing Regulator, which has been engaging with the local authority about its service quality, services for people who are homeless and its Gypsy/Travellers site, said Aberdeenshire Council missed the initial June 2018 deadline for compliance its site at Greenbanks.

In its action plan for achieving full compliance with the minimum standards, the council told the Regulator it was on track to meet the minimum standards by December 2019. It has since informed the Regulator it will now not meet the minimum standards until April 2020. 

The Regulator has instructed Aberdeenshire Council to continue to provide monthly reports on its progress in meeting the minimum standards for the site and confirm that it complies with the standards by April 2020.

Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire Council has improved the percentage of people it assessed as intentionally homeless and the percentage of its lets that it made to people it assessed as unintentionally homeless.

To assess the risks to people who are homeless, the Regulator said it reviewed and compared the data for all councils from the Scottish Government’s 2017/18 national homelessness statistics and the Annual Returns on the Charter. It then updated this using the 2018/19 national homelessness statistics and discussed this with the council.

As well as noting the above improvements, the Regulator also required further information on how people access the service and outcomes for people who are homeless.

In Housing Options cases, Aberdeenshire Council had reported a low percentage of people it recorded as presenting for homelessness reasons for whom it completed homelessness application. The council said it has reviewed its processes and recording and is developing guidance to help it achieve a consistent approach.

On outcomes for people who are homeless, Aberdeenshire Council had reported a relatively high number of people waiting for more than one year for an outcome. The local authority has told the Regulator it is focussed on improving this area and anticipates that the implementation of its Rapid Re-housing Transition Plan will address this issue.

Elsewhere, the Regulator said it identified a number of areas where Aberdeenshire was in the bottom quartile for service quality in April 2019. It subsequently reviewed the council’s performance in the most recent ARC return received at the end of May 2019 and discussed this with Aberdeenshire Council.

In two areas – gas safety and emergency repairs – the council had improved its performance. In the other areas, it provided the Regulator with an assurance that it was taking steps to make improvements in the previously identified areas.

In an updated engagement plan for Aberdeenshire Council, the Regulator said it will review the council’s performance in relation to the outcomes for people who are homeless and engage with it as necessary; and continue to monitor Aberdeenshire’s progress in delivering the minimum standards for its Gypsy/Traveller site at Greenbanks and review its regulatory engagement in light of its progress.

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