08 January 2010

Housing Advice Strategy Launch

The launch of a new Housing Advice Strategy for Edinburgh took place on 21st December 2009 at a special event at the City Chambers.

Sustainable solutions

A major strength of the Housing Advice and Information Strategy 2009-2012 is that it links closely to the aims of the city's Homelessness Strategy and has been developed through partnership work by the Edinburgh Housing Advice and Homelessness Network. Consistency and joined-up working is essential in the context of the current economic downturn and in order to meet the practical demands of the Scottish Government's ground-breaking 2012 target that 'every unintentionally homeless person will be entitled to permanent accommodation'.

The main aims of the new  Housing Advice Strategy are as follows:

  • access to housing is increased and sustained across tenures;
  • housing advice is delivered within neighbourhood settings accessible to all areas of the city;
  • advice provision is of a consistently high quality; and
  • housing advice is tailored to suit individuals' needs and refers to areas in which they live or wish to live.

Underpinning these aims is an emphasis on prevention of homelessness and developing sustainable housing solutions that also form the basis of EHAP's service specification. That is why EHAP has taken a close interst in the development of the new Strategy and will continue to work closely with partner agencies to achieve these objectives.

Clear benefits of joint working

As David Gardner, Project Executive of CHAI, commented in a speech delivered at the launch event, 'the EHAP Partners (CHAI , Granton Information Centre, Four Square and Move On) have already seen the clear benefits of closer joint working within EHAP activity, and we are working hard to carry that partnership ethos into the way we work with other organisations.'

Still work to be done...

But it is also clear there is still work to be done. One major difficulty is the shortgage of social housing in the city. It is anticipated another new service, the Orchard and Shipman Letfirst scheme, which provides assisted access to private sector accommodation, will help alleviate this problem.

A separate area of concern is the high number of eviction decrees being granted in Edinburgh. A report published recently by Shelter revealed that in 2008-09 Edinburgh raised 1,274 legal actions for eviction against Public Sector tenants - a 37% increase over the previous year.  Decree for eviction was granted in over 53% of those cases - resulting in 263 cases of eviction or pre-eviction tenancy abandonment - up by 14% on the previous year. David's final word on the subject was clear; 'I'm sure no one in this room wants to see this trend continue'.

This view is supported by the new Strategy's fifth objective that both statutory and voluntary services will 'continue to prevent homelessness by ensuring advice is accessed at the earliest possible time'.

For futher details please refer to the Edinburgh Housing Advice and Information Strategy 2009 - 2012.


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