Scotland could become 'world-leader' in tackling homelessness with SNP plans, says charity

A leading charity has said Scotland could become a “world leader” in tackling rough sleeping and homelessness if plans announced as part of the programme for government are implemented.

Crisis, the UK’s leading homelessness charity, said the plans to enact the recommendations of the Scotland Prevention Review Group – which would see public bodies and health services ask about individual’s housing situation – could held reduce the number of people who leave hospital or prison with nowhere to sleep.

The plans around affordable housing were also cautiously welcomed by housing charity Shelter, who called on the government to ensure “early progress” was made on the pledge to build 110,000 affordable homes.

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Speaking in Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed £50m of funding to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, including £12m in this year.

Crisis have welcomed the Scottish Government's programme for government.Crisis have welcomed the Scottish Government's programme for government.
Crisis have welcomed the Scottish Government's programme for government.

The government will also launch consultations on the planned Rented Sector Strategy, due out later this year, and a new Homelessness Prevention Duty for public bodies, alongside beginning work on a new system of rent controls.

Welcoming the First Minister’s announcements, the chief executive of Crisis Jon Sparkes said Scotland could become a “world-leader” in preventing homelessness.

He said: “Crisis are delighted to see the First Minister set out her commitment to changing the law to prevent homelessness. These proposals hold the potential to make Scotland a world-leader when it comes to ending homelessness.

“Since the start of the pandemic our priority has been on getting people off the streets and into safe, self-contained accommodation. The action taken over the past 18 months by national and local government, as well as homelessness services, has undoubtedly saved lives.

“But we still have work to do. This year saw a record number of people trapped in temporary accommodation, and we remain deeply concerned that as the economic impact of the pandemic takes effect, more and more people who are currently struggling to get by could be pushed into homelessness.

“We know the best way to end homelessness is to prevent it happening in the first place. These proposals, if adopted, would allow Scotland to introduce some of the strongest protections in the world for people at risk of losing their home.

"We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and others to see these changes happen.”

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Shelter Scotland called on the Scottish Government to “make early progress” on delivering the 110,000 homes included in the announcement.

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We need to see greater protection from eviction, particularly in cases that would result in homelessness.

"The new Covid Recovery Bill and the Rented Sector Strategy need to ensure that the extra protections given to tenants during the pandemic are maintained and enhanced to avoid the slow but steady return to normal that should never have been acceptable in the first place.

“This next year is a golden opportunity to develop thinking on how to support landlords to support their tenants with money problems.

“Only by building the new social homes that Scotland needs can we mend our broken and biased housing system, and we welcome the increased ambition of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.

"However, we need the right homes in the right places and a timescale for building that doesn’t leave people waiting years for the home they need.”

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