Introduction of the Housing (Scotland) Bill

Housing gv

The new Housing (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 26 March 2024. Importantly, it contains new ‘Ask and Act’ initiatives that make tackling homelessness a shared responsibility across public sector agencies. A key policy objective in strategies to prevent homelessness is to shift focus from crisis interventions to preventive activities that can prevent the need for housing from taking over homelessness in shock in the first place, but without undermining existing rights for homeless people.

In short, this would mean relevant organisations asking about a person’s housing situation and taking action to prevent homelessness. While one action could be reaching out to local authority homelessness teams, this should not be a standard action. The relevant bodies are:

  • Health Boards
  • Special Health Boards
  • Integration Joint Boards (IJBs)
  • Local authorities
  • Police Service
  • Registered Social Landlords
  • Scottish Ministers’ functions relating to people in prison and young offenders institutions

It should be noted that the names of the relevant entities to which the transactions will apply may be changed by secondary legislation.

This new approach is to be welcomed any day, but in the face of the housing and cost of living crisis and rising homelessness rates, strengthening homelessness prevention activities is an urgent priority.

The Scottish Government has identified approximately £8 million as the estimated cost of the Bill over 3 years from 2025-28. It should be noted that the success of projects to prevent homelessness depends not only on providing the correct financial memorandum but also on access to adequate affordable social housing.

Other key parts of the Bill are:

  • Changes to existing homelessness legislation to require local authorities to act sooner to prevent homelessness. This will ensure an assessment can be made of whether a household is threatened with homelessness up to 6 months before homelessness appears imminent (a change from two months as required by current legislation) and clarify ‘reasonable steps’ local authorities should take.
  • New steps aimed at preventing homelessness for people affected by domestic abuse – the biggest cause of homelessness for women. Changes to existing legislation will be made to update the definition of domestic abuse as it applies within a housing context. In addition, a requirement will be placed on all social landlords to develop and implement a domestic abuse policy setting out how they will support their tenants who are at risk of homelessness as a result of domestic abuse.
  • A new requirement for a local authority’s local housing strategy to include an assessment of the support needs that local people have and the availability of housing support services.
  • A new power for Scottish Ministers to introduce rent control areas, with local authorities required to carry out an assessment of conditions in relation to rent in their area and make a recommendation about whether Scottish Ministers should impose rent controls in all or part of the area.

You can read the Bill in full, along with the associated documents on the Scottish Government

Other News

You must enable javascript to view this website