Publication - Minutes

Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group minutes: June 2019

Published: 3 Jul 2019
Date of meeting: 11 Jun 2019

Minutes of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group meeting in June 2019.

Published:
3 Jul 2019
Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group minutes: June 2019

1. Minutes and actions of last meeting

Minutes of the previous meeting on 7 March were agreed. One amendment was requested under minutes and actions of last meeting; the section 5 review should be taken forward with SFHA and not Shelter. 

2. Report on Action Plan Progress

Catriona introduced two related papers. The first paper provided a stocktake of progress on delivery of the commitments within the Ending Homelessness Together (EHT) Action Plan. The second paper provided an example report for members comment on the primary and secondary indicators which would evidence progress of the delivery of the High level Action Plan.

Members commented that it would be useful to see additional indicators that measured progress on rapid rehousing, including length of stay in temporary accommodation (TA) and anything to indicate the reasons for those stays. Other indicators suggested was data that could drill down on repeat presentations, together with demographics. Rolling averages or trend analysis could also be helpful as this would help mitigate mis-reporting. There may be transferability from other policy areas in health. 

A discussion also took place about the kind of services we should be engaging with regarding mental health. Catriona thought this would be difficult to analyse from the available data but officials will continue to consider.

Concentrating on the stocktake paper, Catriona explained that this document aims to reflect what HPSG is doing. Members should be reporting at the same time and there is a danger of losing that.

In the stocktake, a new line was suggested to bring together work around social integration, recognising that people experiencing homelessness can be vulnerable to social isolation and may need help and support to re-integrate into communities. The Group recognised the fundamental importance of meaningful social relationships to building the recovery from homelessness.  We know that well thought through accommodation placements lead to better sustained tenancies. The recovery community model provides a good example of this work.

Overall, members felt those areas of the paper which were highlighted as having the greatest amount of resource being applied to them was about right, but as this is a live document, this is something that should be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Members asked that the colour coding of the document be reviewed to make more explicit how resource is being prioritised. 

Actions:

  • Revise colour coding of stocktake document. (SG homelessness team)
  • Add a new line into the stocktake document to track work to combat social isolation for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. (SG homelessness team)
  • Members to consider how they can feed into the stocktake document in order to evidence progress being made against the EHT plan. (HPSG members)  

3. Local Connection and Intentionality – consultation response and next steps.

Ruth summarised the analysis of responses to the written consultation on local connection and intentionality. The consultation analysis and next steps will be published this month. An EQIA will be also published in relation to this work.

Ruth set out the proposed timetable for the commencement of the provisions in the 2003 legislation - the duty to assess intentionality will change to a power in November; for local connection, a Ministerial Statement will be published in November 2020 which will set out criteria for taking forward changes. The Ministerial Statement will be developed through engagement with local authorities and others and will include exploration of good practice examples. 

Kevin Stewart stated his intention to move as quickly as he can on the implementation of the legislation. However he stated it would be his preference to take the time necessary to do it properly and he stressed the importance of taking stakeholders along in the journey so that they are as ready as possible for when the legislation comes into power. 

Ruth outlined the plan to progress the development of a draft updated code of guidance. John Mills said that from an ALACHO perspective, the code of guidance is a particularly important tool for heads of service to drive out poor decision making with regards to intentionality. In relation to local connection a new code would support a consistent approach across Scotland. 

Members reflected that new guidance will need to be properly embedded with the workforce, and this aspect should be considered as work progresses.  

4. Data collection appraisal

Ruth updated HPSG members on the publication of the Centre for Homelessness Impact’s (CHI) options appraisal on rough sleeping data collection.  Ruth asked for members’ comments on the design principles of a data collection system as set out in the report. 

Members thought the options appraisal gave a strong starting position in terms of the design principles. However as a note of caution, it felt that the report read as if the options proposed were mutually exclusive when this was not actually the case. The principles are useful in articulating how we might bring the options together. Members also stated the importance of maintaining contact with those who have developed the CHAIN model, and continuing testing ideas with them. Members also discussed building in as much evaluation power as possible, aiming to harvest as much intelligence as possible. 

The Group agreed design should continue to be informed by lived experience and the experience of frontline staff. A new information system is an opportunity to consider how to help prevent people modifying the answers they give people based on what they think will be most likely to get them something from the support worker in front of them – this behaviour is a rational response to a complex system, but it is not helpful in the longer term This is an opportunity to create a system that avoids some of those unhelpful behaviours, and should drive a better system response for the person. 

Action: Ruth to feedback members’ comments to CHI. 

5. Prevention pathways for care leavers and progress

The initial meeting of the working group considering a pathway to prevent homelessness for care leavers met on 20 May, chaired by CELCIS. Hazel provided a short summary of the shape of the discussion and plans to take this forward, supported by Sabrina Galella and Kate Polson, who attended that meeting and the meeting of the A Way Home Scotland Coalition.

Comments from members focused on the importance of creating mechanisms for people to maintain contact with the system once they leave care, and around ensuring young people leave care as late as possible. It can often be a couple of years after leaving care when the problems start to appear. A corporate parent needs to act the same way as a real parent in a way which prepares a young person with resilience to live independently, support from afar and provides more intensive support when a young person requires it. 

Therefore, the system needs to create a mechanism for young people to be easily identified no matter where in the system they reappear, which provides the opportunity to remain in receipt of fluctuating support as they need, just as most young people receive support from their parents. The Group recognised that there is already strong legislation and guidance in this area, and the question is about how to ensure this is properly implemented rather than coming up with more. Group members highlighted that there is a growing group of young people who are ‘looked after at home’, remaining with their parents but supervised by the local authority. This group is less visible and potentially more at risk of less positive outcomes. 

The Minister spoke of good practice in a number of local authorities but this has not been exported more widely throughout the country. Appropriate channels will need to be considered over which good practice can be transmitted.  

Action: Members’ comments to be fed back to the group developing the care leavers pathway (Hazel Bartels/ Sabrina Gallella) 

6. Public perceptions – strategy development

Hazel gave an overview of current progress to develop a public perceptions strategy and the ongoing work to deliver change. This work is being supported by two HPSG members: David Duke; and Gavin Yates. David spoke about the of views of those with lived experience and the effect stigma, language and imagery can have on them. Gavin spoke about what concrete activities we are developing to move this challenging piece of work forward. 

Members were asked for their comments on the aims set out in the paper, and the tools and activities so far scoped.  The Group discussed the plan to develop an audience map, noting that professionals in the sector are an obvious early target. 

Members thought that the paper showed a lot of thought had been given about moving the conversation on. There needs to be a sense of optimism in the messaging, to make the public understand how they can help prevent homelessness and support people out of homelessness. It was therefore suggested that the aims section of the paper should be reordered to make the ‘homelessness is not inevitable’ a higher priority message. A key first message should also be that homelessness is not just about rough sleeping.

Members agreed that parallel learning should also be explored, namely from health, justice. arts and culture. It is the same set of people we are all working to support, therefore it’s important to explore cross over and what we could take from the approaches they have adopted.

A discussion took place about the roles of the public perceptions working group and HPSG in progressing this work. Members recognised that there will need to be a process to bring senior leaders across the public sector into this work, to set out the aims and reasons for undertaking it and to provide them with tools to take it forward. The Group was clear that we should be expecting people in senior positions to take a lead, and that HPSG and the working group would have a role in making sure people feel like this is something they must take forward and in checking that they do.  

Campaigning can widen inequalities not narrow them, so we need to provide guidance on what the key messages are that should be used across sectors and government. Hazel explained that a style guide is being produced as part of the public perceptions work.

The conversation moved onto inclusion of those with lived experience and the frontline. It was noted that a frontline session would likely include those with lived experience also, therefore a group session should be arranged to capture the viewpoints of this audience.  David told the group that Street Soccer are doing work on anti-stigma which he can share with the group.

Actions:

  • Comments from members to be fed into the public perceptions work. (SG Homelessness team)
  • Plans to bring the frontline and those with lived experience into this work to be developed and fed back to HPSG. (SG Homelessness team)
  • David to share Street Soccer anti-stigma work. 

7. Ending Homelessness Together Fund: update and discussion on principles of spend (including RRTP update)

Catriona introduced the paper, asking members to reflect on the original principles of the EHT spend and asked if they still hold true. 

Members felt the original principles were still right and that fundamentally the EHT fund should be used as a catalyst for change and not to plug gaps in services. Some members felt that the fund should be carefully managed to ensure that smaller but no less important elements of work receive money alongside rapid rehousing. 

The Group recognised that this fund will need to be carefully managed to ensure spending is focused on transformation, and that it is a relatively small amount in the context of the tens of millions spent across Scotland annually on homelessness services. However, it has an important role in facilitating change, helping local authorities to disinvest in less effective services and pivot their spending towards services which will ultimately help people towards more stable, and less expensive, housing and support. 

John Mills progressed onto the update for RRTPs. He noted there are ongoing funding discussions taking place between COSLA and the Scottish Government. He is keeping up the energy around local authorities while they await the funding decision to ensure momentum does not flag around implementation. He explained that where funding was not required or where the local authorities had already made plans, implementation was progressing. The Homelessness team has provided written feedback to all local authorities and are following this up with face-to-face meetings and telecons. Second iterations are being received as well as responses to the areas for development identified in the feedback. The team plans to send a communications about what the next steps are.

A discussion took place on what we know about how local authorities spend their homelessness budget at present. The Group noted that this spending is categorised differently in different local authorities and comparisons between authorities would not made sense. Local authorities should be aligning their RRTPs with their Local Housing Strategy (LHS) and Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP). Local authorities are independent authorities with their own democratic mandate, and must make the appropriate decisions for their own areas. It is right to expect that Heads of Housing will take note of how their peers have approached RRTPs, to ensure they have an understanding of the innovative and creative thinking taking place across the country to end homelessness in Scotland. The team will develop a resource which captures the practice across Scotland in order that local authorities and their partners can learn from each other.

The Minister ended the discussion by emphasising that working within a budget, means working to do things differently. Keeping people out of the system will result in savings. He noted that there will be a local authority leaders’ meeting at the end of June, and that he is challenging those people to consider how to minimise spend but maximise transformation and he asked members to reflect on that also.

Actions:

  • Communication to be sent out about next steps for rapid rehousing (SG Homelessness team)
  • A housing leads event to be organised for the autumn (COSLA). 

8. AOB

Catriona asked members for their views on the balance of papers received in advance of the meeting and the nature of the discussions that took place during the meeting. Members felt there was a right balance of summary pages and deep policy discussion and the meeting worked well.  

Future 2019 meetings: 12 September; 10 December – all 09:00-12:00

Attendees and apologies

  • Kevin Stewart MSP (Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning; Co-Chair)
  • Cllr Whitham, COSLA (Community Wellbeing Spokesperson; Co-Chair)
  • Jon Sparkes, Crisis
  • Peter Barry, SOLACE
  • Gavin Yates, Homeless Action Scotland
  • David Duke, Street Soccer Scotland
  • Gordon MacRae, Shelter Scotland
  • John Mills, ALACHO
  • Lorraine McGrath, Streetwork/Simon Community
  • Janice Stevenson, LGBT Youth Scotland
  • Kate Polson, A Way Home Scotland Coalition/Rock Trust
  • Sabrina Galella, A Way Home Scotland Coalition/Rock /rust
  • Phil Eaglesham, NHS Health Scotland
  • Kathy Cameron, COSLA
  • Catriona MacKean, Scottish Government
  • Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
  • Hazel Bartels, Scottish Government
  • Ruth Whatling, Scottish Government
  • Lynsey McKean, Scottish Government 

Apologies

  • Neil Hamlet, NHS Fife (Phil Eaglesham deputising)
  • Sally Thomas, SFHA