07 Mar 2023

Progress on homelessness at risk of being lost without continued focus on Rapid Rehousing

Local authority progress on homelessness prevention and scaling up of Housing First is at risk if Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) work ends abruptly – this is the key conclusion from a set of new reports published by CIH Scotland with support from Fife Council.

RRTPs were developed by each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities as part of the Scottish Government’s ambition to end homelessness in Scotland. RRTPs set out a pathway to reduce the amount of time people spend in temporary accommodation, move away from the use of hotels and B&B as far as possible, and ensure that the Housing First approach is available for people who need additional support.

RRTPs were initially introduced to cover a five-year period from 2019-2024 with dedicated funding from the Scottish Government to support implementation. However, despite progress made in transforming homelessness services there is no assurance from the Government that this initiative will continue after next year.

The report found that:

  • Unanticipated challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine, inflation and the cost of living crisis have caused unavoidable setbacks in many areas
  • RRTPs have acted as a catalyst for creative prevention projects and partnership working – but input from partners can be inconsistent and needs to be more firmly imbedded
  • No local authorities who took part in the research reported that they would have achieved all aims of their RRTP within the five-year timescale. 53 per cent will have achieved most of their goals, while 47 per cent will have achieved some of their goals
  • 80 per cent of local authorities taking part in the research have faced difficulties with recruiting and retaining staff which has a significant impact on service delivery. Common issues include short-term funding awards, recruitment freezes within organisations, and more attractive employment options being offered in other sectors.

A second project exploring how RRTPs could be monitored more consistently has set out a proposed RRTP Monitoring Framework with input from a steering group and local authorities across Scotland. The framework is intended to provide a better evidence base for tracking the impact of RRTP work, highlight good practice, and indicate where further support might be needed to achieve outcomes and encourage input from key partners.

The two reports, published today on the first day of the Scottish Housing Festival, call for the Scottish Government to extend RRTPs for a further five years with dedicated funding, to support greater input from delivery partners, and to support a more consistent approach to monitoring progress.

Gavin Smith, CIH Scotland chair and service manger at Fife Council said:

“Recent media coverage of the Scottish Government Statistics Bulletin confirms the extreme pressures local authorities and homelessness services are facing, but the research confirms that there is very positive progress being made and now is not the time to lose focus. There is no doubt that we need to increase housing supply, but we also need to support the positive progress that is being made in developing transformational change and monitor the impact as the RRTP journey continues.”

Ashley Campbell, policy and practice manager at CIH Scotland said:

“This work has been shaped by local authorities and key stakeholders from across Scotland, and really highlights the progress that has been made in transforming homelessness services in recent years, despite extremely challenging working conditions. Through a global pandemic and cost of living crisis, local authorities have shown what can be achieved with creativity, flexibility, and dedicated resources – but there is still more to do.

“If the Scottish Government is to realise its ambition to end homelessness in Scotland, we need to keep the momentum going and continue to support local authorities to finish the work they started with RRTPs.”