Presentation on theme: "Comparing rights based & non-rights based approaches to homelessness Beth Watts University of York A comparison of Scotland & the Republic."— Presentation transcript:
Comparing rights based & non-rights based approaches to homelessness Beth Watts University of York A comparison of Scotland & the Republic of Ireland HSA Conference, 14 th April 2011
Introduction Rights based approaches to homelessness are popular Global/national; natural/socially constructed; moral/legal; enforceable/unenforceable; abstract/specific? Housing as a human right (moral framework) Specific and enforceable legal rights to housing (policy tool) Do enforceable legal rights to housing for homeless people achieve good outcomes?
Research questions Do legal rights to housing for homeless households ameliorate the stigma that can be associated with accessing statutory services targeted at specific ‘needy’ groups? To what extent do legal rights to housing for homeless households empower service users? Do legal rights to housing for homeless households mean that those in greatest need access suitable housing? Do legal rights to housing for homeless households create an adversarial climate and/or divert time and resource into legal process and away from tackling housing need? Are the perverse incentives created by legal rights to housing for homeless people acted upon by homeless households?
Scotland’s rights based approach Homelessness Task Force established in 1999, final report 2002 Landmark legislation in 2001/2003 Phasing out of ‘priority need’ category by 2012 Scottish Executive received Human Rights Award in recognition of these reforms
Ireland’s ‘social partnership’ approach Approach developed since the mid 1990s in response to failure of 1988 Housing Act Stakeholder negotiation and deliberation: a problem solving and consensual approach Authoritative government coordination through homelessness strategies, key legislation and evaluation Transparency and monitoring: ratcheting up of standards Sustained political will and significant investment (€53.4m in 2011)
Method: Comparative qualitative research
Emerging themes Stigma No consensus that legal rights help weaken stigma. Some concern they could exacerbate it Stigma attached to homelessness itself (as well as mental health issues, addiction etc) not nature of policy response. Empowerment Conceptual/definitional issues Service user involvement; choice; ‘structural empowerment’; a sense of entitlement? Housing need Legal rights don’t eliminate competition for scarce resources But do they lead to fairer outcomes? Rights place focus on resolving homelessness (settled accommodation) as opposed to managing homelessness.
Emerging themes Legalistic and adversarial? Scotland misunderstood. Consensus and adversary in both systems. Consensual, problem solving approach consistent with and possible within framework of legal rights. Scottish legislation led to surge in acceptances which led to innovation and focus on prevention, problem solving and ‘housing options’. Legal challenges are rare; service user awareness of legal rights not key; internal reviews and regulator as (more?) important as legal redress.
Emerging themes Perverse incentives Series of perverse incentives within the Scottish system. Distinction between perverse incentive existing; perverse incentive being acted upon and perverse incentive undermining entire system. Perverse incentives will be created where there is allocation based on need, not only in systems based on legal rights. Concerns in Ireland about unintended consequences of service expansion.