Prevention on the agenda for Scottish Government homelessness talks

The Everyone Home Collective will meet with Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart today to seek assurances on plans to stop people returning to the streets

Seven members of the Everyone Home Collective will hold private talks with Housing Minister Kevin Stewart to seek reassurances over plans to prevent homelessness as the Covid-19 lockdown continues to lift.

The group of 27 charities and academic organisations, including Shelter, Crisis and Simon Community Scotland, joined forces back in May to create a united response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure no one returns to the streets.

Their plans will progress today when they discuss extending emergency legislation to halt evictions into homelessness to April 2021 as well as preventing a returning to rough sleeping for people still housed in hotels. The collective will also have a chance to quiz the minister on the role private sector landlords will play in tackling homelessness and plans to scale up Scotland’s Housing First programme.

We need quality, affordable options to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness

Also up for discussion will be methods of supporting people who are No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and do not have access to the full range of benefits or housing due to their immigration status.

Stewart has already been vocal on his opposition to Westminster’s NRPF policy and announced earlier this month that Scotland had spent £875,000 supporting people affected by it. He revealed that ministers have written to the UK Immigration Minister Chris Philp on a number of occasions to demand compensation and a suspension of NRPF but no response has been received. Stewart insists that the Scottish Government is “not prepared to abandon” people living without support while experts from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group have also called for a 12-month suspension in their final recommendations after a brief reformation.

The joint-plans submitted by the Everyone Home Collective in May called for prevention to be prioritised in the battle to end homelessness in Scotland. That extended to creating as much housing capacity as possible as well as boosting the supply of homes for social rent alongside preventing a return to the rough sleeping levels seen before the pandemic. They also called for no evictions into homelessness, an end to avoidable evictions and the threat of illegal evictions.

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Representatives from Crisis, Four Square, Homeless Network Scotland, Simon Community Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council will return to those themes once again today.

Janet Haugh, chief executive of charity YPeople, will also attend the meeting, focusing on the role of the private rental sector in the months ahead.

Janet Haugh said: “As a collective we agreed to look at the role of private rented sector accommodation in preventing homelessness, and this becomes even more important as we edge towards autumn and winter.

“We want to explore the impact of any extension to the temporary rules on evictions and work together to find solutions, as well as support the government in discussions they may be having. We need quality, affordable options to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness. Working alongside a range of housing providers including private landlords to identify suitable accommodation is the right approach so that the PRS can play a stronger role in a post-COVID recovery.”

The Big Issue is also seeking an extended suspension of evictions across the UK through our Ride Out Recession Alliance.

Meanwhile, Annika Joy, project director at Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers, will be focusing on overcoming the divide with Westminster over NRPF. She said: “We want to see an end to destitution in Scotland and protect the human rights of everyone who wants to make Scotland their home. I will be asking the minister how the Collective can support him to engage the UK Government on this issue as immigration is reserved to Westminster.”