1. Minutes and actions of last meeting
Sarah Boyack spoke to amendments suggested by SFHA to clarify minute in relation to affordable housing supply, lost contacts with people seeking homelessness services, and SHORE standards. Amendments were accepted and the revised minute was agreed.
2. Action update
i. Meeting with Housing and Finance convenors and relevant LA heads of service
The Minister re-emphasised the importance of progressing this early in the new year, although he and group members agreed it was appropriate for a meeting with these office holders to take place after councils’ rapid rehousing transition plans have been submitted.
The Minister took the opportunity of discussion around ensuring join up and buy in to advise the group he would be meeting his ministerial colleagues in health early in the New Year to ensure well informed joint working starts at the most strategic level. Further discussion took place on improvements that could be made with IJBs to highlight and progress homelessness and health objectives and to develop a shared agenda.
ii. SHORE implementation
Lynsey McKean of the Scottish Government Homelessness team gave an update on current implementation of the SHORE standards.
A review of implementation by local authorities has been carried out, with 24 out of 32 local authorities replying. A paper has been drafted, detailing the responses by local authority. Discussions have taken place between SPS, ALACHO and SOLACE on how the challenges around consistency and quality of service provision and delivery are to be met. This was the subject of discussion between these partners at the Housing and Prisons Network event on 13 November.
- Paper documenting the review of implementation of SHORE in local authorities to be shared with members
- To follow up at next meeting – reflection on how the SHORE standards in local authority RRTPs
iii. Severe weather resilience
Neil Hamlet gave an update on his progress made with Resilience colleagues in Health, indicating that homelessness was not currently a priority in this forum. The Homelessness team have made initial connections with Resilience colleagues within the Scottish Government. Further exploration is required about what can be done in this space, considering how well homelessness actions sit within the current frameworks and the degree to which plans need to be coordinated with national bad weather planning.
- SG Homelessness team to continue dialogue with SG resilience colleagues
3. Winter plans including funding and communications
Hazel Bartels from the Scottish Government drew the Group’s attention to recent announcements, confirming that the approach taken means we are learning the lessons of last year and continuing work to engage with more parts of the country.
Hazel gave an update on the Edinburgh bunkhouse proposal, which will make available 20 extra beds for emergency short term accommodation. The agreement is that the Scottish Government will fund half of this project with the City of Edinburgh Council funding the other half.
City of Edinburgh Council officials advised the Bunkhouse proposal would be discussed at a full council meeting on 13 December, and funding was subsequently formally agreed in time for the Bunkhouse to open doors on 17 December.
- Bunkhouse funding to be included for discussion at the meeting between the Minister and CEC on 11 December.
Lorraine McGrath raised an issue of NHS Lothian seeking to charge Streetwork for naloxone.
- Lorraine to liaise with Neil Hamlet to raise the issue with the Director of Public Health in NHS Lothian, keeping officials informed and updating the Minister.
4. RRTP update
John Mills provided an update to members on the progress on rapid rehousing transition plans and the RRTP sub-group meeting on 6 November.
The sub-group was optimistic that we can expect 31 out of the 32 RRTPs to be submitted by end of December deadline. John explained that the first councils to have their RRTPs ready were Angus and Moray, with engagement from Elected Members being a key factor. He expressed the view that the most successful RRTPs will be those where there is significant leadership from Elected Members. John felt it likely that elected members not on housing committees would be less aware of RRTPs and that this could be problematic. There continues to be a challenge around ensuring broad engagement from Members across all council portfolios, to ensure RRTPs are owned by council as a whole rather than just by those with a housing or homelessness responsibility.
Tenant engagement has not taken place extensively yet; this cannot be rushed. The timescale for the submission of RRTPs has made it challenging to have meaningful tenant engagement and John felt that this would be a development area as plans are put into action.
Strategic level engagement with IJBs is also proving challenging, with some local successes but difficulties in ensuring coordination at the strategic commissioning level.
John expected that it would be difficult to reduce the use of temporary accommodation in year 1 and 2, but numbers should start falling in subsequent years.
Members had seen the minute of the RRTP sub-group meeting on the 6th of November. The February meeting will concentrate on the RRTPs submitted by LAs, seeking to understand what good looks like, what innovation looks like and how plans are reflecting HARSAG recommendations.
In the meantime, the sub-group will continue working together virtually through the eRDM connect platform.
John also mentioned the ongoing review of the section 5 protocol and this continues to be progressed by SFHA and COSLA. The training toolkit will go live in April next year. There continues to be concern around how the EQIA will be managed and the implications around housing access.
Jon Sparkes asked how Housing First implementation is likely to come through in plans. John Mills explained the non-prescriptive approach and the intention to see how LAs propose to take Housing First forward with a view to considering what else we need to do at that stage. Jon queried whether this would allow the financial implications of Housing First to be properly addressed. John outlined some of the key complications which exist with sources of funding for Housing First, emphasising the need for cross-portfolio working within LAs and in SG to ensure the best application of funding, and set out that this would be covered at the next sub-group meeting.
Lorraine McGrath raised a concern around whether the frontline and care sectors have been adequately involved in discussions around implementing Housing First, querying whether there could be a risk that there will not be adequate service capacity as provision is implemented nationally.
Elena Whitham asked how we can ensure all partners are fully involved in the development of RRTPs. John Mills advised that while it seemed unlikely that there will have been truly adequate engagement in every location with every partner before initial plans are submitted, the plans themselves will be working documents that should support ongoing engagement and evolution as they roll out.
- Homelessness team to set up eRDM connect and facilitate its use with the RRTP sub-group and HPSG
- Homelessness team to make Angus RRTP available on eRDM connect
- COSLA to contact Adam Lang regarding section 5 review
- Discussion regarding commissioning of Housing First to take place at next RRTP sub-group meeting in February 2019.
5. Furthering effective joint working with health partners
A number of group members have expressed concern about whether sufficient engagement with health policy and delivery organisations has taken place to ensure that initiatives generated from homelessness policy will be successfully and efficiently implemented to best benefit people who may be vulnerable. The Minister and officials outlined approaches they are taking to further this aim. Group members discussed that an effective way of taking this joint working forward into new areas will be to focus on existing positive examples of cross boundary working between homelessness and health. This should include demonstrating the effectiveness of preventative spend.
Neil Hamlet raised the possibility of working with a health economist to facilitate this, and cited a project being undertaken in Health Improvement Scotland. The Minister said he would look into how we can make the most out of existing work including the Health and Homelessness Data Linkage research.
- The Minister will discuss the role of a health economist in developing evidence to support joint working in his meeting with his health ministerial colleagues, including whether the project Health Improvement Scotland are undertaking will provide useful data.
6. Action plan workshop
Group members separated into small groups to discuss how to prioritise the activities in the Action Plan published on 27 November. Thirteen areas of focus were agreed, and the SG team will work closely with group members before the next meeting to facilitate further prioritisation and to ensure appropriate workstream owners and key actions for the year ahead are agreed.
The agreed areas of focus were:
- Preventing homelessness for groups predictably at highest risk.
- Preventing homelessness for those with no recourse to public funds.
- Ensuring health and social care are fully engaged in all aspects of work to prevent and tackle homelessness.
- Ensuring communication support and secure cultural and systems change in the housing and homelessness sector – local authorities and all partners.
- Implementing communications aimed at the public with the purpose of changing perceptions of homelessness.
- Ensuring plans are in place to provide more homes of the right types and in the right places.
- Developing a clear framework for HPSG to use to drive change and monitor progress, informing the annual report to Scottish Parliament.
- Developing a new (‘CHAIN-like’) data collection system for the frontline.
- Providing short term and long term support to all areas to achieve the shift to rapid rehousing by default.
- Developing the framework of short term and long term legislative changes.
- Progressing the immediate and longer term steps required to empower the frontline.
- Implementing the lived experience programme to ensure all work in homelessness is informed by the experiences and insights of those who have experienced homelessness or worked closely with those who have.
- Implementing standards in temporary accommodation.
- All HPSG members to reflect and comment on the areas of focus, to ensure they are content with the above as the basis for initial work.
Attendees and apologies
- Kevin Stewart MSP (Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning; Co-Chair)
- Cllr Whitham, COSLA (Community Wellbeing Spokesperson; Co-Chair)
- Kate Morrison, COSLA
- Neil Hamlet, NHS Fife
- Sarah Boyack on behalf of Sally Thomas, SFHA
- Jon Sparkes, Crisis
- John Kerr on behalf of Peter Barry, SOLACE
- Gavin Yates, Homeless Action Scotland
- David Duke, Street Soccer Scotland
- Adam Lang, Shelter Scotland
- John Mills, ALACHO
- Lorraine McGrath, Streetwork/Simon Community
- Catriona MacKean, Scottish Government
- Hazel Bartels, Scottish Government
- Graham Thomson, Scottish Government
- Lynsey McKean, Scottish Government
- Peter Barry, SOLACE (sent deputy)
- Sally Thomas, SFHA (sent deputy)
- Janice Stevenson, LGBT Youth Scotland
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