SBC meets homeless commitment ahead of schedule

EVEN though there is still 10 months to go until new legislation comes into force, Scottish Borders Council has already become one of the first local authorities in Scotland to meet the historic 2012 homelessness commitment.

The council together with nine other local authorities have already met their commitment ahead of time to abolish priority need assessments, in effect giving every unintentionally homeless person in the Borders the legal right to a home.

The changes have seen an end to the current system where only those people deemed to be in ‘priority need’ previously had the right to a home.

The act passed, in 2003, effectively extends the right to a home to single homeless people and couples without children. For the last nine years Scotland’s 32 local authorities have been preparing for the changes.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland congratulated Scottish Borders Council on its commitment in preparing for the historic reforms.

“The 2012 commitment is internationally regarded as the cutting edge of progressive homelessness reform and Scottish Borders Council can be very proud that it is leading the way in making history,” said Mr Brown.

“I congratulate the council on its continued focus on meeting its responsibilities to homeless people and in its early preparedness for the reforms. In already having effective policies and practices in place, the council has ensured itself a smooth transition, meaning key resources such as temporary accommodations won’t experience a sudden increase in demand.

“This achievement marks a new beginning for the council and the way it treats homeless people. It is a huge step towards eradicating homelessness not only in the Borders, but Scotland as a whole.”

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker says he is delighted that the local authority had met the Scottish Government’s ‘removal of priority need test’ in advance of the end of 2012.

“We couldn’t have achieved this without the dedication and commitment from our staff who welcomed the new prevention approach implemented on April 4, 2011 and met the challenge head on by working in a radically different way. This also wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our members who endorsed a new strategy in February, 2010, which placed a greater emphasis on prevention and the establishment of a dedicated prevention team adopting a housing options approach.”