The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 extended the duties of local authorities toward homeless people in Scotland, while also recognising that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) had an increasing role to play in providing housing for statutorily homeless households. A growing body of evidence suggests the use of Section 5 differs across Scotland and that its use may be less than had originally been anticipated. There also seems to be confusion regarding the purpose and scope of the requirements.
The Scottish Government intends to review the policy and guidance on Section 5 referrals and, as the first step, commissioned this research looking at its use. The main aims of the research were to: establish strengths and weaknesses of local authority procedures to help homeless households access RSL housing; explore and map views and current practices; establish the use of pre-referrals, including how often they are used, their usefulness and impact, and how they are recorded; establish use of protocols, whether and how the SFHA/COSLA model protocol is being used, and recommendations on ensuring their status; establish views on guidance and options for potential revisions; identify what information is exchanged and best practice between local authorities and RSLs and recommend what information should be exchanged and what processes should be in place to allow interaction; and establish outcomes for homeless applicants, including levels of choice, support, and tenancy sustainability.
The research was undertaken using a mixed methodology which included key player interviews, a survey of all RSLs and local authorities in Scotland and case study research in 5 local authority areas.