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People not process: An action plan for the delivery of Scotland’s homelessness commitment

By: Shelter Scotland  Published: October 2013

Shelter Scotland is calling for a ten year action plan addressing homelessness prevention and crisis services in Scotland. This briefing covers six key recommendations which should form part of the action plan. These recommendations will help the continuous improvement of Scotland's homelessness services, and maintain focus on delivering the ongoing 2012 commitment.


  • Shelter Scotland is calling for a new ten year Action Plan addressing homelessness prevention and crisis services in Scotland. The Action Plan must respond to current and future challenges for housing and homelessness advice services and set out the key objectives at national and local level. It will help to maintain focus and leadership on the continuous improvement of services and help to deliver on the ongoing commitment made to homeless households through the landmark 2012 legislation. The Action Plan should be built on the aspiration to deliver holistic, person-centred services which allow flexibility and choice, and lead to sustainable housing outcomes for all service users.
  • Scotland has in place the most progressive homelessness legislation in the world which gives a right to housing for all unintentionally homeless households. The last ten years has seen the sector move towards delivery of the ‘2012Commitment’ and as part of that process, there has been a largely positive shift in the culture, practices and partnerships of service delivery.
  • We now have a strong, progressive legislative framework which includes the right to housing support and temporary accommodation, but there is more to meeting the needs and aspirations of homeless or potentially homeless households than rights and duties. We now need to build holistic and responsive services around this legislative framework to allow people to make the choices that are right for them.
  • With the significant weakening of the welfare state, it is more important than ever to ensure that vulnerable households are offered support before they are pushed into crisis. For those who do find themselves without a home, a strong housing safety net should be there to provide the services, advice and information they need to help build a pathway out of homelessness.
  • The rights of homeless households must be protected but the distinction between statutory and non-statutory households facing crisis should not exclude anyone from the services they need to rebuild their lives. Rough sleepers, sofa-surfers and other ‘hidden homeless’ must be a priority.
  • Despite restricted public spending now and for the foreseeable future, working in partnership across public services – including health, social work and criminal justice will improve outcomes for individuals and will help to meet not just housing, but health, employability and other national priorities. We need genuinely integrated services and funding arrangements to respond to people’s housing needs regardless of the agency they initially approach.
  • The rebalancing between prevention services and crisis response is already under way through the Housing Options model and the strengths of this approach should be extended to deliver the best possible service for all those coming into contact with it. Specifically, taking a holistic and person-centred approach to people’s needs and aspirations, working in close partnership with other housing providers but also a range of social work, health, money advice, support agencies and specialist services and building in flexibility and choice to the approach.