Coalition calls for housing to be put at centre of policy-making
Ensuring everyone in Scotland has access to adequate housing should be put at the centre of policy-making at every level of government, according to a new call from more than a dozen organisations working across housing, homelessness, local government and the legal sector.
With the Scottish Government consulting on changes to its National Outcomes Framework – which sets its long-term policy priorities – a coalition of organisations have united to urge ministers to make the provision of adequate housing a key test of Scotland’s progress towards becoming a fairer, healthier, more successful country.
The National Outcomes Framework provides a means of measuring the success of policy-making in Scotland, but the need to reduce homelessness has not been included as a specific goal for more than a decade.
In that time, the number of people in the homelessness system has spiked, with more than 14,000 households now trapped in temporary accommodation, including nearly 10,000 children.
The most recent official statistics found 28,944 households with open applications for help with homelessness on 30 September 2022 – an 11% increase compared to last year and the highest number of households since data collection began in 2002.
Responding to the consultation today, the coalition of organisations warned that the success of the National Performance Framework was dependent on the provision of adequate housing.
The submission says a new national outcome focusing on home – and the support people need to live as independently as possible at home – will strengthen housing rights for people with a range of support needs including older people, homeless households, people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and others.
The response is backed by Crisis, ALACHO, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, CIH Scotland, Homeless Network Scotland, Cyrenians, Rock Trust, Rowan Alba, Churches Action for the Homeless, I-SPHERE, Salvation Army, Legal Services Agency and Turning Point Scotland.
Neil Cowan, head of policy and communications for Crisis in Scotland, said: “Home is one of our most fundamental human needs. A safe, secure home supports better health, enables us to plan our lives, and allows communities to thrive.
“Yet tens of thousands of people need homelessness assistance every year and thousands more live in insecure housing.
“In that context, it is vital that the success of policy-making is tested against whether or not we have enough safe, secure homes in Scotland. Making housing a part of the National Outcomes Framework will strengthen housing rights, while helping us meet all our other objectives as a nation.”
Callum Chomczuk, national director of CIH Scotland, said: “We know the benefits of good housing cut across many of the existing National Outcomes, supporting physical and mental health and wellbeing, creating communities where people want to live, contributing to the economy and Government ambitions to reduce poverty and tackle climate change.
“Including a new National Outcome focussed on improving housing outcomes for everyone will ensure that we are able to measure the contribution of housing and direct resources where they are needed to help Scotland thrive.”
Sally Thomas, chief executive at SFHA, said: “We have to show the huge value to society that social housing provides. And to be clear that it’s so much more than simply a roof over your head. Home is the basis for everything else, from our health, our job opportunities, and the childhoods we all deserve. Making sure that everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is one of the biggest differences we can make to people’s lives.
“We support calls for reducing homelessness to be considered in the National Outcomes Framework.”