Scottish Churches Housing Action has encouraged the Scottish Government to act fast in changing long-standing homelessness rules on local connection and intentionality. ‘Local connection’ is the test that says a homeless applicant must have a connection with the council area where they are applying; ‘intentionality’ is the test that says you can apply as homeless only if you’ve not contributed to becoming homeless.
The Scottish Government has asked for views, following recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) which reported last year. SCHA has described the changes as ‘long overdue’, as the power to introduce them was included in the Homelessness (Scotland) Act 2003. ‘The result [of retaining the tests] has been years of unnecessary pain,’ the SCHA submission continues.
Even now, some in local authorities are resisting these changes. This is understandable, since the pressure on staff who deal with homelessness is immense. However, the reason for this pressure is that budgets are so tight. Tackling homelessness in 2019 is hard not because the rules are over-generous to people experiencing homelessness, but because the resources to respond to their needs are not available. We need a good supply of affordable homes, and to put in place the support needed by so many homeless people.
Our response was written by retired Chief Executive Alastair Cameron, on behalf of SCHA. You can find the full response here.