Attendees and apologies
Members in attendance (by virtual conference):
- John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery (Scottish Government) (Chair)
- Jackie Baillie MSP (Scottish Labour)
- Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP (Scottish Liberal Democrats)
- Murdo Fraser MSP (Scottish Conservatives)
- Patrick Harvie MSP (Scottish Greens)
Also in attendance (by virtual conference):
- Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
A number of Scottish Government officials also attended the meeting.
Items and actions
Minutes of the last meeting
The Chair welcomed members to the Group’s fourth meeting and invited comments on the minutes of the previous meeting. It was suggested and agreed that, for context, an addition would be made to paragraphs 5 and 6 of the note of the 9 June meeting to indicate that the scope of the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill precluded the addition of new measures.
Support for tenants
Ms Robison introduced the briefing paper on support for tenants that had been circulated prior to the meeting. This set out the extensive support that had been put in place for tenants since the start of the pandemic, through the first and second Coronavirus Acts, and through policy changes and financial support. It also outlined the legal considerations in relation to the evictions ban, the measures currently in development and the commitment (included in Housing to 2040) to publish a draft of the new rented sector strategy by the end of that year, for consultation early in 2022.
In response to the paper, members discussed a range of issues, including:
- the need to ensure that protections for tenants remained in place while economic uncertainty remained due to the pandemic, including in relation to the winding down of the furlough scheme
- the Scottish Government’s interest free loan scheme and the factors which might be influencing take-up of loans, including the scheme’s eligibility criteria, which took affordability into account
- the work under way to explore potential alternatives to a loan scheme, such as a new grant to support tenants into sustainable tenancies for those in the private rented sector who had fallen into rent arrears due to the pandemic
- the challenges faced by third sector organisations, including in relation to the increased workload they faced as a result of the pandemic
- the survey work under way in order to gather additional data on evictions in Scotland to help provide a better understanding of what was happening and why
- the challenges faced by landlords, who some members considered were effectively operating as creditors to their lenders
- the importance of supporting strong engagement between tenants and landlords
- the legal challenges related to extending the eviction ban to areas subject to restrictions below level 3 and the opportunity to consider new legal remedies as part of the ‘Permanence Bill’
- the impact of the vaccination programme on how the Government measured the threat posed by COVID-19 as the link between virus prevalence and hospitalisation and mortality continued to be reduced
Focus and timing of the next meeting
4. It was agreed that there would not be a meeting in week commencing 21 June but that members would keep in touch about the timing of future meetings and about the further topics they wished to discuss.
No other business was raised.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback