Housing Support Made Easier
10th July 2019
People facing homelessness will have better access to support with new legislation coming into effect later this year.
Last year the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group recommended changes to homelessness laws, and analysis of consultation responses published today show support for the measures.
The first change, which will come into effect later this year, will remove the current duty on local authorities to assess whether a homelessness application is intentional. This will make receiving support easier for people who have difficulties in their lives, such as financial or mental health issues.
Ministers also announced plans to remove the requirement for people facing homelessness to demonstrate a connection to a council area before they can receive support from that local authority.
The detail of these changes will be developed in collaboration with councils and others and intend to give people in housing crisis the freedom to live in the community they choose, and access the support they need.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:"Scotland has some of the strongest homelessness rights in the world and these changes to the law will allow more people to benefit from the support available. We want to make sure that anyone facing homelessness is supported into permanent, settled accommodation that meets their needs as quickly as possible.
"We are working with organisations and partners on the front line to tackle rough sleeping, and cut down the time people spend in emergency temporary accommodation. Crucially, we are listening to those with experience to make sure that we address the root causes of homelessness.
"This is part of our wider action plan, backed by £50 million, which sets out the steps we will take to end homelessness for good."
The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 currently requires local authorities to investigate whether a person applying to them for accommodation became homeless or threatened with homelessness intentionally.
The Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 made provision to change the operation of the intentionally homeless test which would give local authorities discretion, rather than the current duty, to investigate intentionality. The changes to intentionality legislation will come into effect from November 2019.
Local authorities currently have the power under the Act to refer homeless households who do not have a local connection with them to another local authority where they do have such a connection.
The Scottish Government published its consultation paper on 31 January 2019 - https://consult.gov.scot/housing-regeneration-and-welfare/local-connection-and-intentionality/ - which invited views on implementing the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group's recommendation to commence the Local Connection and Intentionality provisions in the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003. Analysis of the responses were published today - See https://www.gov.scot/publications/consultation-local-connection-intentionality-provisions-homelessness-legislation-analysis-responses/