Scotland urged to 'learn lessons' from England on tackling homelessness

The charity, Crisis, said that Scotland could become a 'true world leader' in ending homelessness.

Scotland urged to ‘learn lessons’ from England on tackling homelessness iStock

Scotland should “learn lessons” from England when it introduces measures aimed at preventing homelessness, according to a charity.

The call was made by Crisis, the national charity for people experiencing homelessness in the UK.

The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) was introduced in England in 2017 and was one of the biggest changes to the rights of homeless people in the country for 15 years.

Research has now been released by Crisis examining the impact of the HRA in reducing and preventing homelessness in England.

Similar plans to strengthen homelessness prevention measures were announced by the Scottish Government last year.

A consultation was also launched earlier this year to gather views on how the proposals could work.

Crisis have suggested that the proposals could offer Scotland the chance to introduce a more comprehensive version of the English legislation by going further and preventing homelessness at its source.

In evaluating the effectiveness of the HRA, Crisis indicated that a greater emphasis on prevention has helped outcomes for people in need of assistance.

However despite the positives of the legislation being outlined in the report by Crisis, it also highlighted “significant shortcomings”.

The charity said that one in six people (17%) of people still reported being turned away by their council after the Act was introduced.

And it said that legal tests, which Scotland scrapped in 2012, had left people “trapped” in homelessness in England, with nearly half (46%) of people whose contact with the local authority had ended continuing to experience homelessness afterwards.

The report also found examples of people left to sleep on the street, sofa surf, or live in insecure accommodation such as nightly paid B&Bs due to a shortage of genuinely affordable homes.

Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, said that Scotland can become a “true world leader” in ending homelessness if it combines the strengths of the system with new measures aimed at prevention.

“Scotland has made extraordinary progress in its journey towards ending homelessness over the last few years, and several of the problems identified in the research do not apply north of the border,” he said.

“But while there are very strong protections in place for people who become homeless in Scotland, it is clear that far too many people are being forced from their homes in situations where their homelessness could have been avoided. 

“By combining the strengths of the Scottish system with new measures aimed at preventing homelessness from happening in the first place, Scotland can become a true world leader in ending homelessness.

“Homelessness is not inevitable. By working together, and by making sure people can get help before they reach crisis point, we can end it.”

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