- 8 Sep 2020
Attendees and apologies
- Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
- Cllr Elena Whitham – COSLA
- Sally Thomas - SFHA
- Nina Ballantyne - CAB
- Catriona MacKean - SG
- Naeem Bhatti – SG
- Charlotte McHaffie – SG
- Angela O’Brien - SG
- John Blackwood, SAL
- Margaret Irving – SG
Items and actions
1. Welcome / Introductions / Apologies
The Minister welcomed everyone and apologies were noted.
2. Note of previous meeting / actions
The note of the previous meeting was agreed.
3. Updates from Resilience Groups
PRS Resilience Group
Nina noted the two weekly cycle of the PRS resilience group advising that the next meeting of the group will be held on 20 July. Nina advised that further work has been undertaken on tenants’ toolkit; actions on tenancy sustainment will be discussed at the PRS Resilience Group meeting on Monday. Looking to link PRS group with the Housing Policy Circle work. The Minister would like to get a letter out to all PRS tenants and suggested this should coincide with the tenant toolkit. A draft expected by end of this week though will need some further refinement.
Action: Draft letter to be shared with the PRS Resilience Group
Nina further advised that she was happy to take any questions on the CAS housing data reports she had circulated in advance of meeting. CAS have an article in the Herald this morning about housing aims that reflect the nature of our discussions.
Local Authority Resilience Group
Cllr Whitham noted due to holidays and other commitments the LARG had not met for two weeks but that new supply continued to be a key issue. Also rural authorities have indicated some issues with evictions from tied accommodation belonging to hotels and other tourism related businesses. Additionally a small number of rural authorities are concerned about providing emergency accommodation to support Test and Protect as tourism opens up again. The Minister acknowledged that more may have to be done on tied accommodation but that SG is in touch with Highland Council about specific issues raised.
Katey updated the group on the LARG standing agenda item on voids processing and allocations. The Voids Q&A material has been updated to note that disinfectant “fogging” is not recommended by the WHO and that a 72 delay period is not needed before cleaning can commence.
Katey also noted continued work on medium term strategic planning particularly given the 13 -14,000 households currently in temporary accommodation.
The Minister asked that if there are specific asks in respect of the AHSP that these are identified asap. Cllr Whitham noted the need for clear messaging on buy backs and second hand purchases. The Minister indicated that strategic purchases are acceptable and that there is sufficient flexibility. However strategies for off the shelf and buy backs must be agreed at local level to meet local needs and priorities. Mr Stewart noted that he has discussed with More Homes officials who are clear about this. Local authorities should discuss plans with the relevant Area Team.
Action: Cllr Whitham will write to housing convenors setting out the position relating to buy back and off the shelf purchases.
Social Housing Resilience Group
Sally noted that the letter from the Minister to social housing tenants was very helpful.
The SHRG met yesterday as normal and discussed a wide range of issues:
- SHR has submitted a response to SG in relation to the Economic Recovery Paper. The Minister noted that SG will respond to all of the recommendations from the Economic Advisory Group. The Minister has been in discussion with colleagues and will ensure that the view forward that housing will play a major part in economic recovery.
- The next SHR data return is expected to be issued next week. SHR advised that it will be consulting on regulatory approaches going forward and this will be discussed at a subsequent meeting of the SHRG.
- SHRG noted the HARSAG recommendations.
- Dialogue with UK Energy is ongoing.
- The AHSP has also been discussed including the current re-profiling exercise. SG More Homes to attend a subsequent meeting of the SHRG. The Minister will speak to More Homes later this week and noted that the current programme should be locked into recovery planning.
- Evictions – evidence and impact of the current measures need to be considered. Nina asked whether any extension would relate only to the social sector. It was confirmed that it would be across the board. The Minister noted that SG will have to demonstrate to Parliament why any extension to the existing provisions are necessary. He is in discussion with Mr Russell as Bill lead.
Action: SG will keep the chairs updated.
4. Housing System Policy Circle
Sally updated on the Housing System Policy Circle (HSPC) which is part of the Social Renewal Advisory Board work. The HSPC has an intensive programme and will meet weekly. The first meeting was held on 9 July. The membership is drawn from across the housing sector. The first meeting covered scene setting and the scope of the work. Terms of reference have been agreed including four key questions which the group will use to frame its work.
The Minister wished the group good luck and said he was looking forward to receiving the group’s recommendations.
5. Co-ordination of Housing Sector Recovery Plan
It was agreed that recovery planning work should include the recovery plan, HARSAG and Social Renewal HSPC recommendations.
The Minister asked whether there is anything missing or not being progressed quickly enough?
Sally noted that detailed comments have been submitted by SHRG. LARG has also provided comments. Nina noted that the PRS group will discuss at their meeting on 20 July and forward on any comments. The plan will be updated to reflect the comments received.
Sally also reminded the group that it had been suggested that individual topics are discussed in detail each week using the recovery plan in support. The Minister happy to proceed on that basis. Katey agreed it would be useful to focus time on individual issues to allow deeper discussion e.g. embedding equalities considerations throughout recovery planning. Again the Minister is happy for the group to do this and keen to see further emphasis on EQIAs being led by policy teams and mainstreamed.
Action: SG to develop a programme to support this approach and allow the resilience groups to consider and feed into a discussion in the round to focus on links, equalities impacts, costs, risks etc.
6. Health and Homelessness
Cllr Whitham noted Ruth Robin’s (iHUb) useful input to the HPSG involving data sharing and pathways/links between housing and health. Can this group progress this?
Going forward the Minister indicated that he wants to bring health officials in more often at various points. He is keen to have more people attend from the mental health side. Health Ministers Joe Fitzpatrick and Claire Haughey are both lined up to attend and input to subsequent meetings.
Action: SG officials will take this forward and report back
7. Any Other Business
The Minister reflected how the excellent work being delivered by the individual resilience groups and how this will all be utilised going forward as part of the recovery.