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Moving from homelessness into social housing: testing new approaches

Calendar icon Housing, Poverty

Folder icon Jan 2019 - Aug 2023

Record numbers of people are living in temporary homelessness accommodation. People moving out of this type of accommodation and into a new tenancy can apply for a government grant (the Community Care Grant, from the Scottish Welfare Fund) to help with furnishings, but not until they have signed their new tenancy. Whilst they wait for the grant to be processed and the furniture to be delivered, tenants are liable to pay rent in both the temporary accommodation and the new home. Benefits, however, can only cover rent in one tenancy, which often leads to tenants accruing rent arrears at the start of their new tenancy. Delays in receiving the grant and delivery of furnishings are common and can lead to people either moving into their new home with minimal, if any, furnishings, or building up hundreds of pounds of rent arrears whilst waiting. This impacts on how likely tenants are to stay in that tenancy, with the risk of further homelessness if they are unable to sustain that tenancy.  

Managers from Glasgow City Council homelessness casework teams, four housing associations, outreach support services, the local Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) team, and a furniture provider worked together to test new ways to address this. This involved supporting people moving from temporary homelessness accommodation into a new tenancy, which would reduce this delay and allow people to enter their new tenancy with all the furnishing they needed and without being in arrears. GCPH undertook an evaluation of this pilot project.  

objectives icon Project objectives

The aims of the new partnership work were: 

  • to fast-track SWF award decisions within one week (the mainstream target was three weeks)
  • to fast-track furniture delivery so that the process took less than two weeks in total  
  • to provide a two-week discretionary housing payment during this transition  

The intention was that this would allow people to move into a furnished home without having accrued rent arrears, which would improve tenancy sustainment. 

The evaluation research aims were:  

  • to find out how tenants experienced the support offered and its impacts 
  • to seek views from the agencies providing support 
  • to look at the factors that could encourage or prevent this type of new approach being continued or scaled up 

involved icon What is involved

The GCPH team undertook 21 interviews, speaking with 24 staff and six tenants, and analysed three sets of secondary data received from Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and from the SWF team. 

findings icon Findings & outcomes

  • The pilot did not always succeed in providing support as planned:  
    - Due to issues in communication, 16% of SWF applications were not fast-tracked.  
    - 61% of those fast-tracked moved into tenancies before they had received furnishings. 
  • However, there were positive outcomes:  
    - 69% of the applications that were fast-tracked were completed within one week. For comparison, only 35% of mainstream (i.e., non-pilot) applications in Glasgow during this time period were completed within the mainstream target of three weeks. 
    - The grant award rate (87.5%) was much higher than mainstream grant applications, and the amounts (£1,172) were around double the average for mainstream awards. 
    - 87% of tenants for whom there was data had moved in within the two-week target timescale.
    - Only 4% of pilot tenants had moved out in the first year of their tenancies, and 85% remained in their tenancies for at least two years. 
  • Interviewed tenants valued the support, although some spoke of a preference for larger or more accessible housing.  
  • Staff spoke about providing hardship support to tenants, such as recycled goods, food parcels, and accessing charitable or in-house funds.  
  • Good staff working relationships, trust and clearer boundaries supported the work as it progressed. On occasion, the adherence to these boundaries meant that it was difficult to offer the flexibility which was required by tenants with complex and multiple support needs. 
  • Most staff welcomed scaling up the pilot, although there were some concerns around fairness, eligibility, and limited budgets.  



  • Mapping tenants’ hardship across the city could help assess need and actions required 
  • Efforts to prevent homelessness and sustain tenancies could be strengthened by improving data reporting on tenants’ ethnicity, rent arrears, benefits sanctions and deductions. 
  • Tenants with complex needs that require more flexible approaches could benefit from stronger links across welfare benefits, housing, homelessness and Health and Social Care services 
  • Partnerships could be strengthened by building links with other departments and agencies, such as the Scottish Refugee Council, specialist mental health and addictions teams, and the Department for Work and Pensions. 
  • Sharing the learning more widely with social housing providers across the city and actively seeking out ideas from all staff, regardless of position, should be encouraged. 

resources icon Further resources & reading

Scottish Government. Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group Final Report and Recommendations. Edinburgh, Scottish Government; 2023.  

Homeless Network Scotland learning resources   

Healthy housing for Scotland: A briefing paper setting out the fundamental link between housing and public health. Edinburgh, Public Health Scotland; 2021.      

Intervening in the cycle of poverty, poor housing and poor health: the role of housing providers in enhancing tenants’ mental wellbeing. Garnham L, Rolfe S, Anderson I, et al. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 2021.

Housing as a social determinant of health and wellbeing: developing an empirically-informed realist theoretical framework Rolfe S, Garnham L, Godwin J, et al. BMC Public Health 2020. DOI:10.1186/s12889-020-09224-0

Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan 2019/20-2023/24. Glasgow, Glasgow City HSCP; 2018. 

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