Scotland’s local authorities have all submitted ‘rapid rehousing transition plans’ to the Scottish government, setting out how they plan to move to a new approach to homelessness.
The government has decided that councils should all follow a ‘rapid rehousing’ approach, in which they try to provide homeless people with permanent housing as quickly as possible and minimise the time they spend in temporary housing.
Speaking at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ annual conference, Gavin Smith, service manager for access and homelessness at Fife Council, said civil servants had told him that funding all the measures set out in councils’ plans would cost £130m – something corroborated by an Inside Housing social housing sector source.
Linked to the rapid rehousing plan is Scotland’s ambition to move towards a Housing First approach in which those with the most complex needs would immediately receive permanent housing then wraparound services.
The Scottish government has a £50m homelessness fund, of which £23.5m will go towards rapid rehousing and transitioning to Housing First.
Inside Housing’s sector source said that rapid rehousing has been allocated £15m of this – less than an eighth of what civil servants estimate will be the full cost of implementing local authorities’ plans.
Scottish government housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to ending rough sleeping and homelessness. As part of that, it is our priority to help support people quickly into permanent accommodation and minimise the length of time spent in temporary accommodation.
“We are working with COSLA [the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities] to agree proposals for the distribution of this transformational funding to local authorities so they can support people in their communities and end homelessness.”
Our source said a sticking point is whether money should be allocated according to the number of homeless people in the local authority or the cost of implementing the authority’s plan.
Some councils with large homeless populations, such as Perth and Kinross, have already made many of the changes necessary to move to rapid rehousing, paying for them out of their own budgets, so would require less funding.