Regulator’s research gives valuable insight into homelessness services

Christine Macleod
Christine Macleod

The Scottish Housing Regulator has published new research into the experiences of people who have used homelessness services.

The report examines access to local authorities’ services, support from staff and users’ views on temporary accommodation. It’s the latest in the Regulator’s series of publications from its National Panel of Tenants and Service Users.

The research serves as a reminder of the stress that often accompanies people’s experience of homelessness and considers what matters to them. Researchers found that the most helpful elements of homeless services were those that helped to reduce anxiety and distress. In particular, participants highlighted the important role local authority staff play in providing practical and emotional support at an otherwise distressing and difficult time.

Most people who took part were broadly positive about their experiences of both accessing and staying in temporary accommodation. That said, difficulties in adjusting to a lack of privacy and sharing facilities were identified as having a potential impact on mental health. And a longer-term concern for some participants was that their “life is on hold” while they are in temporary accommodation.

The research also highlighted a lack of understanding around accessing a permanent social tenancy, particularly in making separate applications to multiple landlords and in how applications are prioritised across different landlords.

Christine Macleod, director of regulation (governance and performance), said: “This research gives us a snapshot of the significant difficulties people face when dealing with homelessness. It also highlights the importance of supportive and effective local authority local homeless services, particularly for those with no previous experience of the system.

“We are focusing closely on homelessness services to give us assurance that local authorities are meeting demand and providing help, advice and accommodation to vulnerable people. So where we find that landlords are not delivering the services they should, we will engage with them about the action they need to take to improve their services.”

The research, carried out for the Regulator by Craigforth, is based on in-depth interviews with more than 50 individuals across four local authority areas.

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