Scottish Churches Housing Action Chief Executive Alastair Cameron addressed the Cross-Party Group on Housing at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 13 December.

The meeting was hearing about the work of the newly-established Action Group on Rough Sleeping and Homelessness. Alastair outlined the origins of the group, and set out SCHA’s view on the topics it should tackle. The other speakers were Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, a member of the Action Group; and Lynn McMath, Policy Manager, Scotland with Crisis.

“The Scottish Government had introduced the Housing Options Approach, and committed to building 50,000 affordable homes in the lifetime of the current Parliament,” Alastair said. “We support both these initiatives, but they do not amount to a homelessness strategy. We therefore warmly welcomed the new Action Group when it was set up in October.”

Alastair went on to highlight some of the issues that need to be addressed in working towards a homelessness strategy for Scotland:

  • An agreed way of addressing rough sleeping
  • New approaches to providing temporary accommodation
  • The development of ‘prevention pathways’ for particular groups, eg prisoners on release; people at risk of domestic violence, &c.
  • Greater evidence that homelessness is recognised as an issue within all Scottish Government portfolios, and not just within housing.
  • A funding system that doesn’t rely on finding loopholes in social security legislation, but allows services to be tailored to individuals.
  • A way to bring down the cost of providing new affordable homes, particularly the land component.

“Overall, we’d like to see an approach from Scottish Government that addresses homelessness in three stages: prevention; emergency response; long-term sustainability. This needs to be underpinned by local plans, and a funding system that is based around people,” Alastair added.