From 21st July new easement regulations apply to people who are homeless

New regulations are being implemented to help someone who is 'recently homeless' and is currently in a 'domestic emergency' when they are claiming JSA (Job Seekers Allowance).

Usually, without easement in place, a claimant must be:

  • actively seeking work
  • available to take up work immediately - any time of day, any day of the week
  • prepared to take up a job that means working over or under 40 hours a week, if required

However, from 21st July.....................

for 'recently homeless' people easements can now be applied.  In real terms this means (where agreed by a Work Coach) the claimant does not have to be actively seeking work, available for work, subject to Jobseeker's Direction and participate in any employment schemes, including the Work Programme, if they are 'recently homeless'.

This is in addition to the easement for claimants who have been affected by domestic violence that came into place some months ago.

So how does this work?

The Work Coach will agree a date (of no more than a fortnight) for the easement to be reviewed.  During which time the claimant will be expected to take 'reasonable steps' to find accommodation.  The claimant will be expected to show evidence of this accommodation search.

Examples of reasonable steps might include registering with the Loacl Authority, looking at rent deposit guarantee schemes, or meeting with a Housing Support Officer.

Examples of the evidence might include a confirmation of meetings or housing support.

Homeless Action Scotland

We are delighted that there has been change in the regulations, however we do have some concerns around the implementation of easement:

We recently met with the Head of the Labour Market, DWP where we raised the issue of unseen homelessness, in particular sofa surfing.  We highlighted how there will be claimants who are sofa surfing who fall into the 'recently homeless' category, but a) it might not be that obvious to the claimant and b) the Work Coach might not understand that this is a form of homelessness, and as with people affected by other types of homelessness, the claimant's life may be very unsettled and they may not have the capacity to be searching for work full time.

We are working with the DWP to look to see how we can work to improve knowledge and understanding of Work Coaches around what homelessness and how it affects claimants in Scotland, given that our homelessness situiation and legislation is very different from the rest of the UK.

Scottish Government commits to new private rented sector tenancy in Scotland

A short life working group chaired by Professor Douglas Robertson and including Homeless Action Scotland has recommended a new tenancy regime in the private rented sector in Scotland.  This would replace the widely used Short Assured Tenancy with a tenancy more suited to the 21st century and the changing role of the sector.

Responding to the working group's report, Housing Minister Margaret Burgess, has confirmed that ministers are working on bringing forward proposals based on the report.  The group included a broad range of stakeholders covering both tenants and landlord interests.

It's More Than Teeth 

Experts in dental health and homelessness gathered in Edinburgh 8th May for a ground breaking conference.  Hosted by Homeless Action Scotland and the Dental Services Research Unit at the University of Dundee, delegates at the conference looked for ways of working better together.

'It's More Than Teeth' builds on the conclusions of research carried out by Dundee University - the biggest research project ever carried out anywhere in the world on oral health and homelessness.

Homeless Action Scotland Chief Executive Robert Aldridge said:  'Good oral health amongst homeless people is about far more than teeth.  It affects self confidence, the ability to get a job and in some cases the ability to move out of homelessness.  It's not the first thing anyone thinks about to help someone out of homelessness but it can make a huge difference to people's lives.'

One of the homeless people who took part in the research said:

'Until the opportunity of dental treatment came my way I was resigned to a life of constant pain.  There was no possibility of dental care, to get access to treatment you need an address or photo - ID - a sleeping bag in a girder didn't qualify.

We would resort to pulling our own teeth or self-medicating with more alcohol and drugs - a vicious cycle.  In the past i would watch people smile and their smile would be returned, but not for me.  I was embarrassed to laugh in public and ashamed to smile in front of my daughters.  Toothlessness only lowered my self esteem, which never lifted from rock bottom - until now.  the social stigma that excluded me from mainstream society has been removed and I can move forward with confidence.  Everyone in society, escpecially the homeless and vulnerable, should have the opportunity to access dental care - the effects are transformative.'

Click here to go to the presentations from the day.

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