Two Scottish councils join pioneering network to tackle homelessness

Aberdeen City Council and the Highland Council are to join a new collaborative network to support local government innovators across the UK in tackling homelessness.

Two Scottish councils join pioneering network to tackle homelessness

The Centre for Homelessness Impact has created the What Works Community to support local areas to improve their response to homelessness issues using robust evidence and data.

The What Works Community evidence accelerator programme will provide a space for leading councils to develop ideas, network with peers and receive world-class guidance on improving their homelessness service by reducing local reliance on placing people who are homeless in temporary accommodation.

The community is an intensive six-month learning journey aimed at improving the use of data and evidence in the council to develop policies based on what works in reducing the use of temporary accommodation.

Each of the participating local authorities will look at how the reduction of temporary accommodation usage can provide better outcomes for the people experiencing homelessness in their area. With expert guidance, each local authority will come up with a unique solution, tailored to the needs of their specific community.

Councils taking part in the 2021 programme will benefit from free guidance from thought-leaders around the world. As well as the Centre for Homelessness Impact, they will receive training and resources from Johns Hopkins University, the Behavioural Insights Team, and IDEO.

The community is the first of its kind in the UK and follows a successful pilot programme run by the Centre for Homelessness Impact and three founding local authorities, including East Ayrshire Council, in 2019/20. The pilot programme focussed on tackling local issues in the private rented sector.

Councillor Sandra Macdonald, Aberdeen City Council’s housing spokeswoman, said: “We have joined the What Works Community as part of a strong commitment to reduce homelessness, and the use of temporary accommodation, across Aberdeen.

“We believe that everyone in Aberdeen deserves to live in good quality sustainable homes, which they can afford and that meet their needs. Whilst we have been refining our services and are already seeing improvements, there is still work to be done if we are to move towards an end to homelessness in our area. We are excited to take this opportunity to focus on the evidence of what works and develop positive outcomes, designed with our local community in mind.”

Chair of the Highland Council’s housing and property committee, Cllr Ben Thompson, said: “We are committed to tackling the issue of homelessness and helping households in acute housing need. As part of our ongoing review into our homelessness services, I am delighted that we have been accepted by the Centre of Homelessness Impact onto their national programme. This is an exciting opportunity to review and improve the housing services we provide to vulnerable clients in Highland.” 

Dr Ligia Teixeira, CEO of the Centre for Homelessness Impact, added: “I am delighted to welcome all of the local authorities into the latest What Works Community cohort. By joining the programme they are showing a true dedication to effective programme solving and improving outcomes for everyone in their communities.

“The needs of local authorities are as diverse as the communities they represent and we’re excited to be working with a variety of new councils who bring unique challenges to the table.

“What they all have in common is their commitment to improving the lives of their citizens and an understanding that making more effective use of data and evidence can aid them in their goals.”

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