The Scottish Government has announced plans to suspend rules used to deny homelessness support for people deemed not to have a strong enough connection to the council area, or to have made themselves intentionally homeless.
Responding, CAS spokesperson Eilidh McIvor said:
“Citizens Advice Scotland has pushed for these changes from the Scottish government because they will help in the fight against homelessness.
“Scotland’s Citizen’s Advice network helps hundreds of thousands of people each year and we see first-hand how these rules can deny people experiencing housing crisis from accessing any support at all. These positive changes should reduce unnecessary barriers, ensuring that more people can access the correct type of support when they need it.”
Notes to editors:
These examples of Scottish CAB cases were recently presented by CAS to the Scottish government to support our case for this change.
A north of Scotland CAB reports of a vulnerable client and his young son who were automatically classed as intentionally homeless without investigation into their circumstances. They were suffering from harassment at their accommodation, with strangers knocking the door and shouting through the walls about drugs at all hours of the day and night. The client wanted to remove his son from this potentially harmful environment, as well as protect himself from relapse (he is a former addict but has been clean for many years). He had discussed his concerns with his Housing Officer in the hope of arranging a tenancy transfer, but had gotten nowhere, so he felt that he was left with no choice but to leave the tenancy. The client suffers from dissociative identity disorder, depression, spinal problems and Crohn’s disease and states that the stress of the situation is exacerbating his health conditions significantly.
A west of Scotland CAB reports of a local authority that attempted to prevent a client from making a homeless application on the basis that he had no local connection, even though the client had been working in the area for the past two years. The LA then promised him an assessment but did not provide him with temporary accommodation, so he was forced to spend all of his remaining funds on a hotel room. The LA proceeded to refer him to the neighbouring LA, again supposedly on the grounds of no local connection. He feels that he is being passed from pillar to post and states the lack of support is causing him significant distress and impacting on his already poor mental health
An east of Scotland CAB reports of a vulnerable client with severe mental and physical health problems who was denied the right to make a homeless application in the Local Authority where his 16 year-old daughter lives on the grounds that he had no local connection. He had actually lived there with his wife and daughter for a number of years before his wife died. His daughter returned to the area two years ago to live with his sister-in-law. The client wants to build a stronger relationship with his daughter and, having recently attempted to take his life, feels he needs her support, as well as that of his sister-in-law. The client has no money, no food and nowhere to go.
An east of Scotland CAB reports of a vulnerable client with learning difficulties and serious mental health problems who was denied the right to make a homeless application as she would ‘not meet the criteria’ (intentionality and local connection). The client had given up a tenancy in the neighbouring local authority because she did not feel safe there and was experiencing suicidal thoughts (she had attempted suicide in the past). The client was extremely concerned for her personal safety and felt that she would be safer in the city where she had spent most of her life and where she knew some people, so decided to present as homeless there. However, she was automatically deemed to be intentionally homeless and was forced to sleep rough as a result.
A west of Scotland CAB reports of a vulnerable 67 year-old client who was discouraged from making a homeless application because he would’ likely be classed as intentionally homeless’. The client had recently given up his private tenancy because he had accrued rent arrears and other debts. He was also struggling to afford bills and food (the client’s only income is state pension). He did not want to get into any more debt and felt that it would be in every party’s best interests for him to give up the tenancy. However, the LA stated that ‘it was a complete waste of time as the application would fail at first hurdle’ and that it would ‘take at least two weeks to get an interview’. The client has numerous physical and mental health conditions and addiction issues. He has no real social connections or support, bar one friend with whom he is currently staying. He states that his housing situation is making his already poor mental health worse.