An article examined the impact of legal rights to housing for homeless people, focusing on the capacity of such rights to empower those experiencing homelessness, using Lukes' three-dimensional view of power and Bourdieu's concept of 'habitus' to distinguish between conceptualizations of empowerment. It drew on a qualitative comparison of approaches to homelessness in Scotland and Ireland, and said that, although in Scotland almost all those who were homeless had a legal right to settled accommodation, Ireland had rejected the 'legalistic' approach, pursuing instead a consensus driven 'social partnership' model. The article argued that legal rights could effectively empower homeless people, and said that the findings called into question popular and political understandings of the relationship between legal welfare rights and self-reliance.
Source: Beth Watts, 'Homelessness, empowerment and self-reliance in Scotland and Ireland: the impact of legal rights to housing for homeless people', Journal of Social Policy, Volume 43 Issue 4
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 was given Royal assent. The Act provided for ending the right to buy in Scotland; establishing a private rented sector tribunal; changing mobile home site licensing; introducing a regulatory framework for letting agents; enhancing local authority powers to improve the quality of houses in the private sector; and changing the allocation and management of social housing.
Source: Housing (Scotland) Act 2014, Scottish Parliament, TSO
A second reading was given to a private member's Bill designed to secure a review of the availability of affordable and intermediate housing in England by the Secretary of State, and to introduce three new exemptions to the application of the under-occupation deduction from housing benefit (or the housing element of universal credit) for claimants who were deemed to be under-occupying their social rented homes (frequently referred to as the 'spare room subsidy' or the 'bedroom tax'). The housing benefit exemptions would apply in England, Wales, and Scotland to: certain disabled occupiers in adapted accommodation; certain disabled occupants in receipt of disability living allowance or personal independence payment who were not able to share a bedroom; and all claimants where their landlord or local authority had not made a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation.
Source: Affordable Homes Bill, Andrew George MP, TSO | Debate 5 September 2014, columns 550-611, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
The Scottish Government began consultation on its policy statement on community energy policy. The document set out the government's progress to date and the various forms of support that might be needed in future to facilitate community involvement, mitigate risks, and effectively incentivize communities and developers. The consultation would close on 10 November 2014.
Source: Community Energy Policy Statement: Draft for public consultation, Scottish Government
The Scottish Government began consultation on whether, and how, the planning system could address concerns around the negative impact of over-provision or clustering of betting shops and payday lenders on the character and amenity of town centre and shopping areas. The consultation would close on 14 November 2014.
Source: Planning Controls, Pay Day Lending and Betting Offices: Consultation paper on changes to planning legislation, Scottish Government
Links: Consultation document
A report provided findings from the Scottish Housing Commission. Recommendations included: to establish a Scottish Housing Observatory to mobilize knowledge exchange between government, researchers, and stakeholders; for the development of new methods for supporting the market to sustain demand, and for the private rented sector to be a key part of meeting demand; for changes within social housing finance and regulation; for review of, and changes to, the planning system; for encouragement of refurbishment and maintenance by reducing the rate of value-added-tax to 5 per cent; and for the development of six to eight 'major new communities' across Scotland, as new towns or as regeneration/extension to existing locations.
Source: Building a Better Scotland: The RICS Scottish Housing Commission Report, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
A report said that social landlords in Scotland were finding it increasingly difficult to support tenants and to prevent and alleviate homelessness, owing to the cumulative impact of the spare room subsidy (commonly referred to as the 'bedroom tax'), benefit sanctions, and problems accessing financial assistance at times of crisis. The report noted a range of issues, including: concerns regarding the lack of basic necessities in some households and the lack of, or timeliness of, assistance to meet those needs; that the 'bedroom tax' was increasing requests for transfers and reducing the number of smaller properties available to homeless households; and that lets to homeless households in larger properties had declined due to the 'bedroom tax'. It called for improvements in the operation of the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Source: Welfare Reform: The impact on homelessness and tenancy sustainment for Scottish housing associations, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
The Scottish government published its planning policy, setting out priorities for operation of the planning system and for the development and use of land. The third national planning framework was published alongside the policy.
Source: Scottish Planning Policy, Scottish Government
Two studies examined the impact of the 2012 clarification of the ban on charging fees to renters in Scotland prior to, or at the start of, their tenancies (marking the enforcement of legislation that had been introduced in 1984). A summary of the research said that renters, landlords, and the lettings industry as a whole had benefited from the ban, and that this highlighted the possibilities for change in England.
Source: End Letting Fees: Lessons from the Scottish lettings market, Shelter
The Scottish Government published its first climate change adaptation programme, as required by section 53 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The paper addressed impacts identified for Scotland in the United Kingdom climate change risk assessment, and set out objectives, proposals, and policies, and the period within which the proposals and policies would be introduced.
Source: Climate Ready Scotland: Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme, Scottish Government
A report provided findings from the Scottish Government's consultation on the Home Report, an information pack required to be provided to home buyers. It said that, overall, the majority supported the Home Report, but some issues were raised about the perceived lack of transparency and conflict of interest in reports that were commissioned through selling agents. A majority thought that the information provided was appropriate and useful, and did not think that the upfront costs deterred the marketing of properties. Most respondents did not support the establishment of a national register of Home Reports.
Source: Lucy Robertson and Louise Blair, Consultation on the Home Report Analysis of Responses, Scottish Government
The housing watchdog in Scotland said that the implementation of Housing Options (an approach to preventing homelessness through the provision of information and advice) by local authorities had been shaped by limited guidance and, until recently, without a comprehensive monitoring framework. It said that national guidance was now required, and made a range of recommendations for the Scottish Government and local authorities to address issues related to early intervention and needs assessment, the use of targets, waiting times, the assessment of homelessness status, the process of Housing Options interviews, and auditing the service.
Source: Housing Options in Scotland: A thematic inquiry, Scottish Housing Regulator
A report by a committee of MPs said that the Scottish Government should make a clear commitment to using discretionary housing payments to mitigate all the financial impact of the removal of the spare room subsidy (often referred to as the 'bedroom tax') on tenants in Scotland. It called on both the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments to expedite the necessary procedures that would enable the Scottish Government to remove the cap on DHPs in Scotland as quickly as possible.
Source: The Impact of the Bedroom Tax in Scotland: Devolving the DHP cap, Fourteenth Report (Session 201314), HC 1292, House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee, TSO
A report examined the potential impact of Scottish independence on energy markets and energy bills.
Source: Scotland Analysis: Energy, Cm 8826, Department for Energy and Climate Change, TSO
A study for the Scottish government examined private rented sector tenants' and landlords' knowledge and understanding of tenancies, and their views and responses to a range of longer term and more secure tenancy options. The report said that landlords considered the existing Short Assured Tenancy (SAT) system to work well and thought that action should be focused on landlords who did not comply with the existing legislation. It said that tenants held more varied views, with shorter-term, transitional tenants valuing flexibility, longer term tenants more concerned about property condition and repairs, and some tenants concerned about lack of security. The system for producing SATs and tenancy documents was viewed as lengthy and complicated by both tenants and some landlords, particularly smaller landlords.
Source: Lucy Robertson, Simon Little, and Sheenagh Simpson Craigforth, Qualitative Research to Explore the Implications for Private Rented Sector Tenants and Landlords of Longer Term and More Secure Tenancy Options, Scottish Government
An article examined a knowledge transfer programme that aimed to enhance understanding of the impact of changes in the built environment on the care provision for, and quality of life of, people with disabilities. The programme was established with a care provider in Scotland to transfer knowledge between service staff and an academic institution. The article described the programme, and its value for the service provider.
Source: Paul Jenkins, Harry Smith, Marcia Pereira, and Andy Challen, 'Underpinning reflective practice in social care and housing provision through collaborative knowledge exchange', Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 29 Number 1
A report examined the use of the discretionary housing payment (DHP) budget in Scotland. The DHP was intended to mitigate the impact of welfare reform by providing short-term help with housing costs, and the Scottish Government had made an additional £20 million of funding available to local authorities in October 2013. The report said that the level of spending in each local authority had been varied but, by the end of 2013, eight had spent less than 30 per cent of the allocated funds. It called on local authorities to: take action to allocate funds; to review all earlier DHP applications in light of the additional funding; to publish DHP policies and eligibility criteria; and to promote the fund to potential applicants and advice agencies.
Source: Monitoring the Use of Discretionary Housing Payments in Scotland, Shelter Scotland
A report by a committee of MPs said that it remained in favour of abolishing the spare room subsidy (commonly referred to as the 'bedroom tax') and, in the meantime, remained in favour of mitigating the effect of the tax through changes proposed in its earlier report. However, it said that the committee disagreed with the use of discretionary housing payments to mitigate the impact in Scotland, since it was ineffective in reaching difficult-to-access groups. The report called on the Scottish government to rethink its plans for 2014-15, and to mitigate the impact for 2013-14 by writing off arrears and refunding payments that had been made by tenants. The report incorporated the government's response to the committee's earlier report on this topic, which reaffirmed the government's commitment to removing the spare room subsidy.
Source: The Impact of the Bedroom Tax in Scotland: Plan B – charges, arrears and refunds; incorporating the Government Response to the Committee s Fourth Report of Session 2013-14, Ninth Report (Session 201314), HC 937, House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee, TSO
A report by a committee of MSPs said that the under-occupancy charge (also known as the 'spare room subsidy' and the 'bedroom tax') was inhumane, was having a harmful effect on people's lives, and might breach tenants' human rights. It welcomed the additional funding provided by the Scottish government for discretionary housing payments, and appealed to them to explore further ways to mitigate the impact in the short term. It recommended that the United Kingdom government should abolish the under-occupancy charge, or give the required powers to the Scottish parliament.
Source: Interim Report on the 'Bedroom Tax', 1st Report 2014, SP Paper 459, Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee
The Scottish Government published the responses to its consultation on the Scottish climate change adaptation programme. The programme would aim to address the risks from climate change identified in the United Kingdom Climate Change Risk Assessment, published in January 2012. It said that positive comments described the programme as comprehensive and welcome, but a number of gaps and recommendations were identified by some respondents, including calls for a greater sense of urgency, more emphasis placed on partnership working, more action, and adaptation becoming embedded in the policy, processes and language of the planning system.
Source: Consultation on the Draft Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme: Analysis of responses, Scottish Government
The Scottish government published its third proposed National Planning Framework for consideration by parliament.
Source: Ambition. Opportunity. Place. Scotland s Third National Planning Framework: Proposed framework, Scottish Government
A report examined the costs to housing associations in Scotland of the the removal of the spare room subsidy (also known as the 'bedroom tax'). It said that their modelling estimated the total costs over first three years to be £79 million. The report called on the United Kingdom government to repeal the measure, and for the Scottish government to help mitigate the impact.
Source: The Real Cost of the Bedroom Tax for Scottish Housing Associations and Co-operatives, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations