Scotland’s councils worried about impact of more cuts to homeless services, report finds
The standard of accommodation and the quality of services provided for homeless people are under threat from funding cuts to Scotland’s councils, housing charity Shelter Scotland has warned after new research was published yesterday.
The charity is calling on the Scottish Government and COSLA to find new ways of funding and protecting homelessness services after the study showed some local authorities were concerned that the standard of accommodation used for housing homeless people could deteriorate due to lack of repairs and maintenance caused by budget constraints.
‘Funding Homeless Services in Scotland’ also found there was little evidence of recent investment in the quality of accommodation for homeless people.
UK government changes to the way temporary accommodation is funded - by being linked to the Local Housing Allowance from next year - will also mean a significant reduction in the money local authorities receive from central government to pay for temporary accommodation.
The research showed how local authorities are concerned that further funding cuts will impact their ability to maintain personalised homelessness services developed under the Housing Options approach.
The independent research by Anna Evans Housing Consultancy, and commissioned by Shelter Scotland, also found that some local authorities think the reduction in homelessness applications seen over the last decade has now plateaued and they fear the number of people making homelessness applications will begin to rise again.
Shelter Scotland said the report shows that while many local authorities have done what they can to protect the funding of homelessness services, the fact they are now paid from councils’ General Fund means they aren’t protected from future swingeing cuts.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “The provision of accommodation and homelessness services together provide a vital safety net that helps people in crisis. But if services are cut, more homeless people will fall through that safety net.
“If nothing changes then something has to give. Our fear is that, due to underfunding, the quality of accommodation for homeless people and the services they receive will deteriorate, in effect, failing some of the most vulnerable people in our society at the very time they most need help.”
Graeme Brown added: “Homelessness can happen to anyone. It’s unthinkable that we now face a situation where much of the progress made in Scotland over the last decade to combat the human tragedy of homelessness could be undone.
“We can’t let that happen. A way must be found to stop the cuts and maintain and build our homelessness services.
“The Scottish Government and COSLA need to find a new funding model that recognises and supports the full cost of providing good quality temporary accommodation and delivering world-class homelessness services.
“Councils must be supported so they can continue with their frontline person-centred services – not just their statutory duties. It’s vital that we find some practical and creative ways of tackling this very worrying situation.
“Politicians also need to develop a new National Homelessness Strategy for Scotland to bring a joined up approach to tackle this issue head-on and focus on the root causes of homelessness.”