- 8 Sep 2020
Attendees and apologies
- Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
- Cllr Elena Whitham - COSLA
- Sally Thomas - SFHA
- John Blackwood - SAL
- Nina Ballantyne - CAB
- Anil Gupta - COSLA
- Naeem Bhatti - SG
- Mandy Callaghan -SG
- Margaret Irving – SG
- Katey Tabner - COSLA
- Catriona Mackean – SG
- Angela O’Brien – SG
Items and actions
1. Welcome / Introductions / Apologies
The Minister welcomed everyone and apologies were noted.
Note of previous meeting / actions
Changes to previous minute from CAS noted. Amendment of last bullet point in section 2 to read: Concerns that the need for CAS to shift to online and phone advice means some people may no longer be able to access advice, but still be in need, with these people not captured in CAS data.
3. Updates from Resilience Groups
Social Housing Resilience Group
Key points from the previous meeting included:
- Restarting services guide has been updated and have also contributed to moving homes guidance
- Letter to tenants from the Housing Minister was published and has been well received
- Discussion looking at the role of community housing, care and support models in the future
- SHR returns are showing an increase in rent arrears
- Variations in testing practices – talking to PHS
- Economic recovery advisory group – SFHA submission
- PPE route working well
Minister noted that Fife Council had raised some issues about the letter to tenants. COSLA was not aware of the concerns and will follow up.
Action - Officials to look at Data Protection Issues around sharing the correspondence.
Local Government Resilience Group
Key points from the previous meeting included:
- Continuing work on the Gypsy traveller framework to look at how best to support family camps as they begin to move for work
- Support for asylum seekers
- Concern about those with NRTPF especially those in the hospitality industry
- Voids processing gradually increasing
- Some tenants are not willing to have workers in their homes
- Discussion of HARSAG recommendations
- Early prisoner release – concern about late homeless presentations
- Unsuitable Accommodation Order discussion
- Area Based Schemes work re-started on 1 July
- PRS toolkit to go out to landlords
- Concern how people will be supported when furlough scheme ends
- COSLA may amend submission on RRTP after HARSAG recommendations are published
Ministers awaiting the narrative from HARSAG and will discuss at the next HSPG.
The Minister understood the reluctance of some people to grant access to their homes. Equally some workers are concerned about social distancing - need to get the message out about working safely in people’s homes. The Minister suggested distributing the material on construction on how to safely work in people's homes.
Action - Officials to contact Sharon Miller and Alan Wilson of CICV regarding sharing their guidance with the Resilience Group Chairs.
The Minister said that officials are clear that there is flexibility to purchase homes through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.
PRS Resilience Group
Key points from the meeting included:
- Toolkit for PRS is being finalised and should be ready soon.
- Group are keen to have a letter to PRS tenants from the Minister to ensure parity with social housing tenants. This should be mailed out as not everyone online.
- CAS discussed the latest data on housing. There is a lack of information on where homeless presentations are coming from.
- Discussion with Shelter about tenancy sustainment. Aim is to identify gaps and solutions so that at the end of the no eviction period no one is forced out of their home.
- Pre-action protocol and need to input to guidance to find solutions.
The Minister commented that the PRS letter needs to go out soon. Officials confirmed that a submission will be with the Minister today with details of the costings of the PRS letter. He agreed tenancy sustainment is important for all tenures as is advice and sign-posting.
He noted the Pre-action protocol guidance work was on-going and officials confirmed they are looking to get first draft to landlords by the end of July.
Members agreed early intervention was key to many of the issues - good communications between landlords and tenants is essential to ensure tenancy sustainment. At this time need to ensure we have the data to get a full picture and work on-going in order to move forward and there may be merit in carrying out a joint survey.
The Minister noted that his constituency work highlighted although people may present with one issue there are likely to be others and taking a holistic approach, to delve further into matters is important in ensuring people are provided with the support they require.
COSLA noted that there is a duty to support and that prevention work needs to look to other organisations outside of the housing sector. Mr Stewart referred to an energy efficiency project which used health service to signpost people. Need to do more of that type of work as it makes a big difference.
CAS mentioned work is being carried out on good practice where council tax arrears can hide other issues and struggles.
Action CAS to share details of good practice when dealing with council tax arrears.
Letters sent out when people are in arrears could be more supportive offering help rather than demanding payment. Although letters are computer generated they could be worded to be more supportive. Work with CAS bureau and a LA showed a better outcome if they identified those who would pay and weren't paying etc. and helped improve LA revenue.
Action COSLA to have a look at possible options across the 32 LAs.
Regulations for Energy Performance Certificate particularly important as approaching winter we need to be aware of health conditions, especially respiratory conditions. Need to do some preventative work in case there is a second virus spike.
Minister noted Energy Efficiency measures were paused rather than postponed. He also noted that SG has had discussions with Energy UK and will continue to look at all aspects of fuel poverty.
4. Housing System Policy Circle
- Sally is joint chair to the policy circle which also involves others in this group.
- It is critically important that work is aligned with other work that is ongoing including HARSAG and Housing to 2040.
- It is important to have lived experiences informing and influencing the work.
- The first task is to feed into the PfG.
- The additional support should be continued for those who have been identified during the pandemic.
5. Housing Sector Recovery Plan
The Minister noted that these meetings were useful and that as we move forward it may be helpful to pick two or three issues for discussion to ensure strategic topic based discussion.
Members agreed and would identify the key issues from resilience group meetings and bring to this group.
6. Any other Business
There was no other business.