Published 21 August 2019
West Dunbartonshire Council’s new five-year approach to further reduce homelessness in the area has received £265,000 of funding from the Scottish Government in its first year.
The initiative will ensure homeless people are fast-tracked to settled accommodation as quickly as possible, and reduce the need for temporary or emergency solutions.
The first round of funding will be used to introduce two new services.
An authority-wide Resettlement Support Service will be set up to ensure new tenants referred through the homeless service are given assistance for a minimum of eight weeks. This will not only improve tenancy sustainment but also combat repeat homelessness.
A prevention service will also be introduced which will deliver a proactive response to any household threatened with homelessness in West Dunbartonshire.
Officers submitted a draft of the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, titled Home at the Heart, earlier this year.
The feedback from the Scottish Government was very positive with a number of areas of good practice being highlighted.
These included the Council’s award-winning Leaving Care Housing Protocol, the introduction of the supported tenancy model and the fact that bed and breakfast-style accommodation is largely avoided.
At last week’s meeting of the Council’s Housing and Communities Committee, Councillors were advised of enhancements made to the plan – which saw the cost of delivery reduced – before they approved the use of funding.
Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of the Committee, said: “I welcome this additional resource from the Scottish Government as it will allow us to continue to make progress in reducing homelessness in West Dunbartonshire.
“Our residents are at the heart of everything we do and we are committed to achieving positive outcomes for them all. Our Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan will not only provide more permanent and secure housing for homeless people, but will also offer support to some of the most vulnerable members of the community when they need it most.”
Councillor Caroline McAllister, Vice Convener, added: “I am pleased our plans for tackling homelessness for the next five years have been well received.
“We have already made good progress in tackling homelessness in recent years, with a 21 per cent reduction in the number of people presenting as homeless as a result of early intervention and education.
“This approach will allow us to get it right first time, moving away from temporary accommodation and ensuring residents going through this difficult time face less disruption.”
All Scottish councils were asked to prepare and submit Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs) to the Scottish Government covering the period 2019/20 to 2023/24, and this then informed the decision on how to allocate £50m between 32 local authorities and their partners.
West Dunbartonshire’s transition to rapid rehousing has been estimated to cost £3.54million.
The plan was developed in collaboration with key partners, including the Health and Social Care Partnership, local Registered Social Landlords and third sector organisations, via a series of stakeholder events held in November and December 2018.
During the Committee, Councillors also approved the submission to the Scottish Government’s consultation into Temporary Accommodation Standards for homeless households.
The Temporary Accommodation Order currently only applies when the household includes dependent children or when someone within the household is pregnant. The unsuitability also relates to the location of the accommodation, the quality of the accommodation and the facilities that are available there.
The Council’s response will show support for the key proposal, which extends the Order so it applies to all homeless households, with an incremental introduction.
It also supported a continuation of the maximum time a household spends in unsuitable accommodation.
Councillors agreed to oppose sanctions for authorities that breach the unsuitable accommodation order due to the detrimental knock-on effect this would have on the homeless service provision.