CIH Scotland responds to consultation on local connection referrals
Suspending local connection referrals could increase demand for housing and homelessness services in some areas, CIH Scotland has warned.
Currently, if a person or household presents as homeless in an area where they do not have a local connection they can be referred to another local authority area where they do have a connection. Following recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG), the Scottish Government agreed to review this process and conducted an initial consultation in 2019.
The Scottish Government has now commenced Section 8 of the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 which allows ministers to modify local connection referral rules and confirmed that they intend to suspend all local connection referrals between all local authorities in Scotland. A second consultation sought comments on specific criteria to implement the changes and monitor the impact on local authorities.
Commenting on the latest consultation, policy and practice manager Ashley Campbell said CIH Scotland fully supports the principle of increasing choice for homeless households and making sure they can move into settled accommodation in the area that will best suit their needs. However, concerns have been raised that suspending local connection referrals could have an impact of already stretched housing and homeless services.
Ms Campbell added: “The consultation does highlight the need to monitor the impact of changes and suggests that further modifications to the rules will be considered where necessary, but there is no mention of further resources being made available to local authorities that may be struggling to meet statutory duties.
“We want to see a holistic approach to homelessness and enough resources being made available to ensure that homeless households can access good quality housing and support no matter which local authority they approach for assistance. This means investing in more affordable housing, ensuring that local authorities have adequate resources to fully implement Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and that health and social care partners are able to provide support where and when it is needed.”