Heriot-Watt academic to chair new working group



The Scottish Government's commitment to develop a legal duty for local authorities to prevent homelessness has been boosted this week with the creation of a new working group.

The group, which will develop recommendations around the duty, will be chaired by Heriot-Watt academic, Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, director of The Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE).

The expert working group, which is supported by homelessness charity Crisis, will also include experts from homelessness organisations and local authorities. The group will develop recommendations for a legal duty on local authorities and other public bodies across Scotland to prevent homelessness for people at immediate risk.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick said:This establishment of this working group is an important step towards enhanced homelessness prevention in Scotland. It is essential that local authorities and other public bodies are supported and their responses shaped through an appropriate legal framework.

“Scotland continues to lead the world in terms of homelessness rights and we look forward to working closely with the Scottish Government on the development of this new law.”

I-SPHERE provides a crucial interface between government, frontline services and those living in hardship. The institute's research has been pivotal to the largest reforms in homelessness laws across Great Britain in the past 40 years.

The Scottish Government committed to developing a duty on local authorities and other public bodies to prevent homelessness in November 2018 in the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan. This was in response to a recommendation by the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, of which Professor Fitzpatrick was a member.