Since devolution in 1999, immense changes have been made to the ways in which homelessness is dealt with in Scotland. This page sets out how we arrived at a plan to resolve homelessness by 2012.
Homelessness Task Force
The government set up the Homelessness Task Force (HTF) in 1999, 'to review the nature and causes of homelessness and make recommendations for change'.
The Task Force published two reports, the first of which was published in 2000 and formed part of the 2001 Housing Act. The second and final report of the Task Force was launched at a Shelter conference in February 2002. This report contained landmark recommendations for changing how homelessness is dealt with in Scotland.
The report recommended building on the changes already made to the law, and recognised that changing the service received by homeless people means changing practice as well as introducing new laws. You can download the report from the Scottish Government site.
The Task Force report contained 59 recommendations. Five referred to changing the law, most looked at changing policy and practice.
The Homelessness Task Force was succeeded by the Homelessness Monitoring Group (HMG), which oversees the implementation of the HTF recommendations and the changes in homelessness practice brought about by the new legislation.
Changing the law
Shelter lobbied for a Homelessness Bill as a result of the HTF recommendations. The bill would set in law the intentions of the Task Force, giving everyone a right to a home by 2012 and providing support to those homeless people who need it.
The bill passed through parliament in March 2003, and has given Scotland the most progressive homelessness legislation in Western Europe. To find out more about the Homelessness Act in general, download Shelter's Homelessness Act Fact Sheet. For information on the progress of the Act's implementation, see the commencements section.
The recommendations relating to practice are having a huge impact on the work of front-line service providers. On behalf of the Scottish Government, Shelter hosted a series of seminars in late 2002 giving practitioners the opportunity to feed into the process of changing practice.
To find out more, you can download the HMG seminar report, which summarises the views of participants.
There are a number of ways Shelter is supporting the Scottish Government, local authorities and other organisations in changing practice to improve the services that homeless people receive. These include:
- the creation and dissemination of practice briefings
- hosting events on areas of homelessness practice
- sending out a bi-monthly e-newsletter to keep practitioners up-to-date with all the latest developments
- providing an online area for practitioners to share experiences, concerns and successes through articles and seminar presentations
- developing our training function.