Falkirk Council ahead of the game in helping the homeless

A recent law hopes to end homelessness in Scotland
A recent law hopes to end homelessness in Scotland
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Falkirk Council says it is well-placed to meet ambitious new legislation aimed at effectively ending homelessness in Scotland.

A law passed by the Scottish Parliament entitles anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own to settled accommodation.

Previously, only those classed as being in priority need, often families with children, had that right.

It meets Scotland’s historic 2012 homelessness commitment, which was first set in 2002.

Councillor Gerry Goldie, convener of housing and social care, said: “Falkirk Council ceased to apply the priority need test from October 1, 2012, a good three months before the December 31 deadline set by the Scottish Government to abolish the priority test within legislation.

“Over the last few years, the number of homeless presentations has significantly reduced thanks to the introduction of our Housing Options advice.”

A report published by the local authority in August last year stated that “the homelessness strategy is based on the vision that, by 2012, no one in the council area need be homeless.”

It aimed to prevent homelessness by increasing awareness of help that is available, making best use of existing accommodation and offering support to vulnerable people to ensure they do end up back on the streets.

The number of people presenting themselves as homeless to Falkirk Council has steadily declined in the past three years.

There was a 49 per cent decrease in the number of people presenting themselves as homeless in 2011/12.

The majority of those who do ask to be recognised as homeless are single, and the main reasons given for their predicament are relationship breakdowns and disputes within the family.

This decline has been helped by the introduction in 2011 of a ‘housing options’ approach by the council, in which officers can routinely review applicants’ current housing situation and offer advice.

It offers advice on accommodation to anyone that asks for it. It was introduced to offer applicants the opportunity to discuss and investigate their housing options before they consider making a formal homeless application.

Since the introduction of housing advice interviews, a total of 45.7 per cent of applicants have not gone on to complete a homeless assessment and have instead sought housing advice.

For more information, visit Falkirk Council’s Accommodation Resource Centre at 21-25 High Street, Falkirk, or call (01324) 503600.