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September 12, 2018

Better data, better results: an  options appraisal for a new national data + monitoring system on rough sleeping in Scotland

Eilidh Morrissey

Scotland’s Programme for Government 2018-19 has outlined their intention to implement the recommendations of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG).

From the beginning, HARSAG highlighted the need to improve our knowledge of rough sleeping across Scotland if we are to achieve the ambitious goal of ending rough sleeping in Scotland. To be able to test, refine, evaluate and improve our efforts to reduce rough sleeping over time, we need to be able to measure its key elements. Evidence is at the heart of any successful change initiative, as findings can be used to underpin strategy and ensure accountability. Better data would enable us to gather the information needed to first understand the scope of the challenge and then assess ongoing progress.

This is why HARSAG recommended the use our SHARE framework in the development of a new rough sleeping data and monitoring system for Scotland. Following this, we were asked by the Scottish Government to carry out an options appraisal for the proposed new national data and monitoring system.

The Scottish Government know that having a reliable picture of the rough sleeping landscape is essential to support efforts to reduce rough sleeping in Scotland. Currently Scotland has excellent data recorded from households who approach their local council for help with housing problems but that only captures those who present themselves to local authorities. It paints a partial picture.

The hope is that a more complete picture of the landscape would ensure the sector is working towards ending rough sleeping more effectively – enabling both for more joined up working on the ground and more informed decision-making from the top. In this area, better data ultimately means better results for people experiencing homelessness, better use of resources and better evaluation of the effectiveness of efforts to end rough sleeping.

The Centre for Homelessness Impact and the Scottish Government have been been researching and co-designing the options appraisal with people across the sector – from strategic to front-line, and with those with lived experiences of rough sleeping in Scotland. Their knowledge and lived expertise holds the keys to the success of the system itself.

The options appraisal also has an expert advisory panel which will meet over the duration of the options appraisal to guide the process. Listen to it's members give their thoughts towards the first workshop and the potential for the project as they see it:


It's members include:

Beth Sandor - Community Solutions

Catriona MacKean - Scottish Government

Dr Emily Tweed - University of Glasgow

Grant Campbell - Glasgow City Mission

John Mills - Fife Council

Julie Hunter - North Lanarkshire Council

Dr Lars Benjaminsen - The Danish National Centre for Social Research

Lorraine McGrath - Simon Community Scotland

Margaret-Ann Brunjes - Glasgow Homelessness Network

Ruth Whatling - Scottish Government

Dr Peter Mackie - Cardiff University

Susanne Millar - Glasgow City Council

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick - Heriot-Watt University

Yvette Burgess - Housing Support Enabling Unit

It’s fantastic to see Scotland’s Programme for Government’s commitment to improving the lives of those experiencing the worst forms of homelessness. The Centre believes that work like this is vital to building the infrastructure required to end homelessness more effectively. 

More updates will be coming soon and the findings of our options appraisal will be shared later this year. In the meantime, get in touch if you'd like to know more at hello@homelessnessimpact.org

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