Task force set up to tackle homelessness in Edinburgh

Councillor Kate Campbell will chair the new task force
Councillor Kate Campbell will chair the new task force

A homelessness task force has been created by the City of Edinburgh Council to investigate the growing problem in the city.

Chaired by the Homelessness Champion, Councillor Kate Campbell, the task force will review the use of bed and breakfast accommodation and explore alternatives that could better meet the needs of individuals and families, with an aim to end the use of bed and breakfast accommodation.

The local authority’s housing and economy committee last week approved the remit and membership of the new task force which will now undertake evidence gathering covering areas such:

  • reviewing costs of existing temporary accommodation and provide costs for potential alternatives
  • assessing complexity of service users needs
  • examining the suitability of existing temporary accommodation options
  • analysis of additional temporary accommodation required to eliminate the use of bed and breakfast accommodation
  • identifying council properties which could be developed to provide temporary or move on accommodation
  • establishing what works, reviewing cases where successful outcomes have been achieved
  • analysis of the impact of current and future welfare reform
  • Forming the six-member cross-party task force are Cllr Kate Campbell (SNP), Councillor Robert Aldridge (Lib Dem), Councillor Cammy Day (Lab), Councillor Susan Rae (Green) and Councillor Iain Whyte (Con).

    The task force shares common goals with the National Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which began work earlier this year, and through the housing and economy committee will contribute to pilots and initiatives delivered by the Action Group.

    Housing and economy convener, Councillor Gavin Barrie, said: “Our homelessness services are facing unprecedented pressures, with demand for both permanent and temporary accommodation exceeding supply. Addressing these pressures requires a city-wide partnership approach to ensure that workable solutions are found.

    “The council’s focus on prevention and early intervention has seen an overall reduction in homelessness presentations. However, as a result of welfare reform, a lack of affordable housing options and a growing population there has been an increase in the amount of time people spend in temporary accommodation.

    “I’m positive that the establishment of this dedicated task force will be an important step forward in looking at alternatives to our current system and our shared goal of reducing homelessness and I look forward to their first update in the New Year.”

    Speaking of her appointment as chair of the task force, Cllr Kate Campbell said: “Homelessness is a major issue facing the city. There is a financial cost which we can ill afford, but there is also a human cost which is why a key coalition pledge was to put in place this task force.

    “There is an enormous amount of work to be done but we are determined to come up with bold solutions which prevent homelessness, tackle rough sleeping, and improve the quality of temporary accommodation.

    “This won’t be easy but I am delighted that there is a real determination among the members of the task force to leave politics at the door and work constructively together to improve outcomes, and ultimately improve lives.”

    An update on the evidence gathering exercise and recommendations for work streams will be considered at the next housing and economy committee on 18 January 2018.

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