Thursday, 24 April 2014

Inquiry into homelessness prevention launched

The Scottish Housing Regulator is to carry out its first national inquiry into an approach used by councils in the country for homelessness prevention.

It announced yesterday it will examine councils’ quality of advice given to people with housing need to assess their performance in developing and delivering the so-called housing options process.

Christine Macleod, the Scottish Housing Regulator’s director of regulation, said: ‘Local authorities need to ensure that people looking for housing get information which helps them make informed choices and decisions about the range of housing options available to them.   

‘The findings from this inquiry will give us important assurance about the quality of housing options services across the country.’ 

Housing options is a process developed in Scotland to avoid someone becoming accepted as homeless if there is an alternative solution.

The process includes giving housing advice and can also look into an individual’s personal circumstances, not just housing, such as debt advice and mental health issues. It also looks at possible ways of accommodating them before they are homeless, such as exploring all possible tenure options. It helped the country towards the goal of giving everyone who is unintentionally homeless the right to a home by the end of last year.

Ms Macleod added: ‘We will be able to share examples of good practice and make recommendations for improvement when we publish our report near the end of the year.’

Graeme Brown, director of homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, said: ‘Housing options works best when those who need help are put in the driving seat and given the support and advice they need to move their lives forward.

‘Housing options should be the mechanism for delivering a more person-centered homelessness service and ensure better outcomes for people in housing need.’

The regulator will analysis published data, do national survey work and targeted field work with six local authorities, and carry out discussions with key stakeholders and service users.

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