3. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its plans to allow people who are seeking treatment for addiction to retain their tenancies through continued housing payments. (S6O-01225)
Under current United Kingdom legislation, housing benefit, or the housing element of universal credit, are reserved benefits and cannot be used to support both a tenancy and residential rehabilitation. Therefore, last year, the Minister for Drugs Policy introduced the dual housing support fund to cover full tenancy costs while someone is in residential rehabilitation, to ensure that no one has to make the impossible choice between accessing residential rehab and keeping their home. The Scottish Government’s dual housing support fund is part of the £5 million per year recovery fund, which supports individuals to access residential rehabilitation.
I am glad that the minister spoke about the dual housing support fund, which was introduced in May 2021 and helps people with drug and alcohol dependencies not to give up housing. However, over a year later, there is very little information on the scheme, and implementation appears to have stalled. How many people have received support from the fund? Does the minister think that it is right that some people still have to choose between their health and their home?
To answer the question directly, the dual housing support fund has not stalled; it has been working and helping people. To date, there have been several referrals to the fund, which have all been successful, and five people have been supported through it so far. If Mr Gulhane wants to see more support for people in such situations, I encourage him to engage with his UK colleagues on housing benefit and the housing element of universal credit so that those can be used to support both a tenancy and residential rehabilitation, along with the additional support that I have mentioned that the Scottish Government has provided.