Scottish Government outlines next steps to reduce use of temporary accommodation
Efforts to reduce the number of households living in temporary accommodation will be backed by at least £60 million to support a national acquisition plan to increase the supply of social and affordable housing, the Scottish Government announced today.
The funding will support councils and registered social landlords to purchase properties including empty homes and private sector homes.
Other measures to reduce temporary accommodation will include working with social landlords to increase allocations to homeless households and providing national guidance for local authorities to support good practice around changing temporary accommodation into permanent affordable homes.
Bespoke plans to address specific issues will also be developed with the local authorities with the greatest temporary accommodation pressures.
First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Housing is crucial to achieving our aspirations of a fairer country. We recognise the varying challenges that exist across Scotland and that these cannot be addressed by a single solution. That is why the range of actions we will be taking, including our £60 million plan, will help us effect real change.
“A great deal of consideration has been given to the best way to reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation. I am thankful to members of the Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group and all its contributors for the role they played in shaping the final recommendations.”
John Mills, co-chair of ALACHO and joint chair of the Task and Finish Group, said: “We’re heartened by the Scottish Government’s recognition of the seriousness of the current situation, the damage that is being done to many families living in temporary accommodation for long periods and the increasing challenges councils are facing in meeting their needs.
“We’re particularly pleased by the commitment to a national acquisitions programme to bring more homes into social renting quickly and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government, COSLA and Shelter Scotland to recapture the momentum towards ending homeless that we had pre-pandemic.”
Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland and co-chair of the Temporary Accommodation Task & Finish Group, said: “Scotland is experiencing a housing emergency that is ruining lives. By being here today, the First Minister is showing that he is serious about this emergency.
“At Shelter Scotland, we see the impact of our broken and biased housing system in the work we do with families and individuals trapped in temporary accommodation. When a system isn’t working it is those groups most marginalised – children, disabled people and minoritised ethnic groups – that feel the impact the most.
“That is why I was so honoured to co-chair this expert group which engaged directly with people experiencing homelessness. They identified three key priorities for the Scottish Government. Firstly, buy and build more homes to deal with the current emergency; secondly, prioritise the homes we have for people experiencing homelessness; and finally, fully-fund high-quality services that always treat people with dignity.
“Today’s announcement is the first step in the right direction to bring down the number of households in temporary accommodation from its current record high. It must not be the last.”
SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas said: “Preventing homelessness is at the core of what housing associations and co-operatives do. Every day our members not only ensure that people have a safe, warm, and affordable home but also offer support with many other issues, from health needs to employment opportunities. They stand ready to do even more, with the right conditions.
“As the initial report made clear, the core issue is that we simply do not have enough social homes. We cannot tackle homelessness in Scotland unless concerted efforts are made to build the affordable homes we desperately require – and right now we’re not on track to deliver those homes. We are looking to Scottish Government to provide the leadership and planning necessary to meet urgent and growing housing need.”
Ashley Campbell, policy and practice manager at CIH Scotland, added: “Our work with local authorities across Scotland has shown that significant progress has been made in transforming homelessness services though RRTPs and the financial support provided by the Scottish Government. Thanks to this proactive approach, 93% of local authorities told us they were able to invest in new homelessness prevention activities and 26 local authorities across Scotland are now offering Housing First.
“However, persisting challenges following the pandemic, the ongoing cost of living crisis and responding to humanitarian crises mean there is more work to do. This is why we called for RRTPs to be continued for at least another five years with dedicated funding. We welcome the additional £2m funding that has been announced, but local authorities need certainty over the future of RRTPs beyond this financial year in order to plan services and provide best value for money.
“Scotland has a proud legacy of progressive homeless legislation and taking a person-centred, rights-based approach to supporting people in need. If we are to keep building on this legacy, we need to keep investing in affordable housing supply and homelessness services. The Scottish Government must move quickly to publish detailed guidance on the national acquisition plan to support the delivery of much needed social and affordable homes.”
Funding for the National Acquisition Plan of at least £60m comes from the 2023-24 Affordable Housing Supply Programme, allowing local authorities to use their existing resource planning assumptions to rapidly acquire properties for use as high quality, affordable, permanent homes.
On 30 March 2023, the Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group provided Scottish Ministers with recommendations on reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation. The Scottish Government’s response to the recommendations can be found here.