How can homelessness be tackled in Scotland? This policy paper takes on a multi-sector approach, providing recommendations for financial institutions, non-governmental organisations and the public sector to take action in order to alleviate this pressing issue.
As of March 31st 2019, there has been a 3% increase in homelessness applications since the 2017/18-year, totalling households considered homeless or threatened by homelessness to 29,894 (Scottish Government, 2019). We are therefore evaluating ways in which financial institutions, the public sector, and NGOs can tackle homelessness in Scotland.
With the private sector addressing the issue of ‘unbanked’ people, Lloyds, NatWest and Monzo each created homeless-inclusive banking schemes that do not require a permanent address. Additionally, End Youth Homelessness, along with the Rock Trust, run a rent-deposit scheme to help homeless individuals take the first step into housing. The Scottish Government responded by creating a £4.5 million fund for NGOs to combat homelessness through the ‘Ending Homeless Together Action Plan’ (EHTAP). NGOs, such as ‘GreaterChange’, support homeless individuals through the creation of donation platforms, enabling cashless donations which directly contribute to the improvement of individuals’ ability of breaking the cycle of homelessness. Furthermore, devolution allowed the Scottish Government to pass the Homeless Act (2003) to abolish the ‘priority need’ test, meaning that all unintentionally homeless people have the right to accommodation. However, since this has not been matched with increasing housing, the number of people in temporary housing tripled between 2001 and 2011 (Crisis, 2012). Nonetheless, these schemes have had little success in addressing the fundamental financial issues from which the social, health and economic issues of homelessness arise.
We thus suggest five key policies:
A series of homelessness prevention qualifications should be created and implemented, focusing on different public and private sector roles.
The UK Government should significantly reduce the waiting time before the first Universal Credit payment to two weeks in the short-term,and it should even consider removing the scheme altogether in the long-term.
Additionally, the Scottish Government should make a discretionary social fund available to claimants awaiting their first Universal Credit payment, which should be non-repayable for those who cannot afford the UC advance system.
NGOs and financial institutions–namely Greater Change–are urged to concentrate their services in order to achieve a long-term goal of inclusive operations.
Furthermore, this paper advocates greater cooperation and collaboration amongst NGOs in operations and fund allocations.