Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group minutes: January 2023
- Local Government and Housing Directorate
- Part of
Minutes from the meeting of the group on 18 January 2023.
Attendees and apologies
- Shona Robison, Co-Chair and Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
- Cllr Maureen Chalmers, Co-Chair and Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, COSLA
- Aaliya Seyal, Legal Services Agency
- Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland
- Angela Keith, SOLACE
- Eileen McMullan, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
- John Mills, ALACHO
- Kate Polson, Rock Trust
- Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community/Streetwork
- Maggie Brunjes, Homeless Network Scotland
- Martin Boyle, Change Team
- Matt Downie, Crisis UK
- Mike Callaghan, COSLA
- Ruth Robin, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Sally Thomas, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
- Shea Moran, Rock Trust
- Susanne Millar, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership
Also in attendance
- Catriona MacKean, Scottish Government
- Janine Kellett, Scottish Government
- Karen Grieve, Scottish Government
- Abbie Darge, Scottish Government
- David Pentland, Scottish Government
- Janice Stevenson, LGBT Youth
- Jo Ozga, Scottish Women’s Aid
Items and actions
Welcome and introductions
Cllr Maureen Chalmers welcomed members as chair of the meeting.
Reflection on the life of Marion Gibbs
Cllr Chalmers began the meeting by reflecting on the life of Marion Gibbs and the wealth of knowledge she brought to the sector. She shared her shock and upset over Marion’s passing before handing over to Catriona MacKean to lead a tribute to Marion.
Catriona reflected on the instrumental role Marion held in the homelessness sector and the huge loss experienced as a result of her sad passing on 7 December 2022.
Update on the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022
Catriona provided an the update on the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022.
The Scottish Government published its first report on 12 January 2023 on the first two months of the Act, and which highlighted the need for the emergency measures to continue to 31 March 2023. Ministers have decided that the social rented sector rent cap will expire on 31 March 2023.
Announcements on the private rented and student accommodation sectors were to be made on 19 January 2023. Catriona confirmed that subject to the approval of Parliament there will be an extension of the framework of the Act beyond 31 March 2023, with these measures subject to ongoing review.
Matt Downie asked if there was any evidence of the impact on landlord behaviour, for example, landlord’s entering and exiting the market. Catriona replied that a limitation of the report is that it is only based on two months’ of evidence, so there is not a clear picture of any emerging trend.
- SG to share the link to the report with HPSG members
Local government – housing challenges and solutions
Cllr Chalmers introduced a discussion paper prepared by COSLA on housing challenges and solutions for local government, and suggested that members focus on the first four bullet points. Cllr Chalmers highlighted the crossover with the letter the Everyone Home Collective sent to the Cabinet Secretary in September, which set out 10 priority areas of housing pressure and may help identify solutions.
Alison Watson reflected that there was a sense of urgency developing around the challenges faced by the sector. She expressed concerns about pressures on housing capital budget, which could be problematic at a time when we need more housing.
The Cabinet Secretary advised that the capital budgets are more nuanced than the 16% reduction Alison had described and offered to share the figures with HPSG members to ensure everyone has the same understanding of the affordable housing supply budget.
Sally identified two areas for further consideration. First, look anew at the available resource and see if more can be made of this through flexing criteria, reallocations etc. Second, what can be done to increase the money we can access, for example, local authority borrowing at low interest rates.
Lorraine McGrath suggested joint initiatives on housing acquisition or development as avenues to explore. She also raised concerns around the planning process of affordable housing and suggested increasing the percentage of affordable housing that private contractors must bring to market, while ensuring proper constraints around affordability.
Matt highlighted three areas for exploration. First, how to prevent homelessness better and with a sharper focus. Second, opportunities for innovative processes for areas under the most acute pressures. Third, resolve homelessness that is a result of immigration status, suggesting a working group on modern slavery is established. The Cabinet Secretary replied that the Innovative Finance Group could possibly pick up some of these ideas.
John Mills highlighted the problem registered social landlords and housing associations have with historic housing debt which limits borrowing capacity. He suggested seeking financial expertise and also bringing empty homes back into use to increase access to housing stock.
Kate Polson asked if more could be done around empty office/retail space and suggested a centralised call out to those with property. Lorraine added that co-housing options could be considered to allow for commercial buildings to be repurposed into housing.
The Cabinet Secretary agreed with the need to make the money we have go as far as possible, for example, what could be done through collaboration with procurement, and that a forum for these ideas to be explored fully should be found.
Cllr Chalmers advised that work to investigate the need to ensure opportunities throughout Scotland are emphasised so those relocating are not just adding to pressurised areas is underway within local government and COSLA.
- circulate the affordable housing supply programme figures
- pass suggestions to the Innovative Finance Group
- identify a forum for the issues raised above to be explored in more detail
National Care Service
Shea Moran provided an update from the meeting HPSG members had with the National Care Service (NCS) Team on 31 October. Homelessness and housing sectors remain unconvinced that the NCS is the correct solution to meet the health and social care needs of people experiencing homelessness.
Everyone Home Collective meeting / Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group
Janine Kellett referenced the constructive letter from the Everyone Home Collective, which set out housing pressures and challenges but also offered ways in which to work together. There was an initial meeting with officials on 6 December 2022, and a follow up meeting is scheduled for February with the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister with special responsibility for Refugees from Ukraine.
Janine then updated on the Task and Finish Groups, expressing her thanks to the co-chairs of each group. The group focusing on temporary accommodation is finalising its recommendations. The other groups are now well underway and making positive progress. Due to the synergies identified between groups, a meeting to bring all the co-chairs together is being arranged for February, the outcome of which will then be fed back to HPSG.
RRTP subgroup meeting
John advised that, by late November, 27 of 32 local authorities had submitted rapid rehousing annual returns and the subgroup welcomed that Housing First programmes were being delivered in 25 local authorities. He identified some concern around local connection; however, reassurances on the monitoring of outcomes has mitigated these.
Martin Boyle provided an update to members on the national conversation roadshows undertaken last year. He discussed the breaking down of barriers and how important relationships are when supporting people experiencing homelessness. People with lived experience want less jargon and value being treated as human beings. Members welcomed the Change Team’s report .
Ruth Robin concluded the group updates with the work being done around MAT standards. She felt there was a lack of detail in the assessment used by ADP coordinators and that more could be done in this space. Ruth is looking for a member of HPSG to sit on the working group to provide a homelessness perspective and asked anyone who is interested to contact her.
- The Cabinet Secretary will discuss the points raised by Shea with the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care.
Any other business
Lorraine raised concerns around students and their families experiencing homelessness. Although this is not happening in large numbers, it is worrying, as is the hidden nature of this homelessness.
COSLA confirmed that there had been no discussions at a local level, but that this issue merited further discussion. The Cabinet Secretary would like to understand if it is related to changes to the PRS and if there is a geographical angle to the problem.
Cllr Chalmers thanked members for their input and closed the meeting.
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