Measures to prevent homelessness are being backed with extra Scottish Government funding this year and Scottish Borders Council say, although the Goverment’s commitment to drastically cutting the number of homeless people nationwide “presented them with a significant challenge”, they have achieved their target, becoming one of the first in Scotland to do so.
As a result of the new Government funding, Housing Options Hubs will receive £150,000 for councils refocusing services to look at individuals’ housing options in the widest sense.
Council staff will provide households with information and advice about the range of services available, including those that offer support, and look to prevent homelessness happening where that is possible.
And a spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said the local authority were already on the same page as the Government, being one of the first councils in the country to fulfill their commitment.
They told ‘The Berwickshire News’: “The Scottish Government’s 2012 target of removing the ‘priority need’ test and offering all unintentionally homeless households accommodation presented a significant challenge to the Council and its partners by further increasing the pressure on the already limited supply of housing in the Scottish Borders.
“In February 2010, council members endorsed a new Homelessness Strategy which placed a greater emphasis on looking at individuals’ housing options to prevent homelessness happening wherever possible.
“Staff have embraced and welcomed the new approach and met the challenge head on by working in a radically different way.
“A homelessness prevention team was launched on April 4 2011 and through the dedication and commitment of staff we were able to remove the priority need test ahead of the target date on the July 18 2011.
“As a result, Scottish Borders Council is one of the first local authorities in Scotland to meet the historic 2012 homelessness commitment – with several months still to go until the new legislation comes in to force.”
Responding to the recommendations contained within the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 2012 Homelessness Commitment Report, Housing Minister Keith Brown said: “It is essential we do all we can to achieve our 2012 target of offering all unintentionally homeless households accommodation.
“Many councils across Scotland are enthusiastically embracing the housing options approach, where prevention is the main driver, as the way forward in the fight to tackle homelessness. This funding will enhance what has already been achieved.
“This Government has made clear our commitment to achieving the 2012 Homelessness Target.
“We will continue to work together with our local authority partners to meet these challenges by sharing ideas and practice and making best use of the resources available.”