30 Mar 2022

CIH Scotland raises concerns about limitations of Prevention Duty to stop homelessness

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland has published its response to the Scottish Government consultation on a Prevention Duty, noting its support for the principle and an obligation to be placed across the public sector while raising concerns about some of the specific proposals in the proposed measures.

In its response CIH Scotland states that the prevention duty has the potential to transform how we tackle homelessness in Scotland by ensuring the broader public sector assess for risk of homelessness.

However, it adds that the current outline of how a prevention duty will apply raises questions about its effectiveness and whether it will improve housing outcomes for those at risk of homelessness.

Calum Chomczuk, national director at CIH Scotland said:

“This prevention duty has the potential to transform how we tackle homelessness in Scotland. Health and care services, education departments, social work, courts, prisons and the police service already engage with tenants and homeowners in a way that local authority housing services do not. Allowing them to assess for risk of homelessness could make a real difference. 

“However, we are concerned that not enough consideration has been given to training requirements across the public sector and unless the right approach is taken, those at risk of homelessness may disengage from necessary health or care services. Nor has the cost of the Bill been fully considered. While over time, delaying or stopping someone from becoming homeless may realise financial savings for the public sector, in the short term the new duties and responsibilities will have to be resourced from somewhere.

“Additionally, the suggestion of moving people into safe and suitable accommodation for a minimum of 12 months appears a regressive step for those who previously had the right to fixed permanent housing.

“A prevention duty can help transform our approach to homelessness but its success will be determined by depth of public sector duties applied and a commitment to resourcing and training to embed a new approach.”