Attendees and apologies
- Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
- Cllr Kelly Parry, Co-Chair and Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, COSLA
- Mike Callaghan, COSLA
- Gordon MacRae, Shelter Scotland (deputising for Alison Watson)
- John Mills, ALACHO
- Matt Downie, Crisis
- Aaron Hill, SFHA (deputising for Sally Thomas)
- Maggie Brünjes, Homeless Network Scotland
- Kate Polson, Rock Trust
- Shea Moran, Aff the Streets
- Aaliya Seyal, Legal Services Agency
- Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community Scotland/Streetwork
- Susanne Millar, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership
- Janice Stevenson, LGBT Youth
- Sally Thomas, SFHA
- Ruth Robin, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Angela Keith, SOLACE
- Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland
- Jo Ozga, Scottish Women’s Aid
- The Change Team
Also in attendance
- Catriona MacKean, Scottish Government
- Janine Kellett, Scottish Government
- Melanie Goodfellow, Scottish Government
- Karen Grieve, Scottish Government
- Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
- Pamela McBride, Scottish Government
- Andrew Weild, Scottish Government
- Louise Thompson, Scottish Government
Items and actions
1. Welcome and introductions
The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government welcomed all members to the call.
As there was a full agenda today, members were advised that the link to the published minutes from the last meeting in March had already been circulated and any requested amendments were to be sent directly to Melanie Goodfellow.
2. Partnership working in Glasgow and its impact on reducing rough sleeping
Ms Robison invited Susanne Millar from Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to give members an overview of this agenda item and the factors that led to success in Glasgow.
Susanne began by highlighting that the success seen in Glasgow was in part due to collaboration amongst a number of organisations across Glasgow, such as Homeless Network Scotland and Simon Community Scotland. They set the original target, which was by design a very ambitious one. Susanne reflected that as Glasgow City Council had delegated the city’s homelessness services to the HSCP and the Integrated Joint Board, they found it easier to achieve this ambition.
They knew it was a bold decision to set a target to end rough sleeping and they wanted and needed to be aspirational when doing so. They also wanted to ensure there were opportunities to recognise they didn’t always know how to achieve this target and understood that it was ok to make mistakes, which in turn would help with their learning. Susanne advised members that this was a real turning point for the HSCP and it enabled them to overcome the challenges and move forward.
The HSCP committed significant resource to this piece of work and utilised the pre-existing relationships with third sector partners. However, it was important that all partners learned to trust each other and that lived experience was at heart of this. It was important to work with the people they were helping and realise there isn’t a one size fits all approach to ending rough sleeping and supporting those at risk.
The Housing First model really helped them to tailor their approach to this issue and prompted them to look at the wider needs of those they were supporting. They also took the opportunity to look at the housing supply in city, which was better than had initially been assumed. There was also a strong political will and support to allow them to be aspirational and take some risks to tackle this issue.
Covid-19 also presented an opportunity to really tackle this issue and build on the successes they had so far. It allowed them to reach out to the people at risk of or already sleeping rough and, as a result, contact with the people that needed help improved. The ability to offer services also improved. They also found that drug deaths among those with multiple and complex needs decreased as a result, and this was at a time when drug deaths were increasing overall. The HSCP has held on to these successes post Covid-19 and redesigned services in response to this learning.
They found the use of personalised budgets allowed people to take back control of their own lives and helped the HSCP deliver what they said they would. They were then able to use this experience to take other opportunities, like closing the Bellgrove Hotel, and progress work across the homelessness landscape.
Susanne highlighted that they continue to face challenges when trying to access the right mental health services for those they are supporting, and there are gaps in meeting the needs of those with mental health issues. There is also some division among some organisations in Glasgow as to how best to deliver various services, such as emergency food provision. This deficit based approach has been shown not to work and it’s important that all organisations move towards an asset based approach that is proven to deliver successful outcomes.
Ms Robison then asked other members for their views.
Maggie Brünjes wanted to highlight the importance of not underestimating what has been achieved through this work and Glasgow becoming a Vanguard City. She also advised members that Glasgow had Housing First commitments in 2016 and this agreement to have a housing led approach was a driver behind the successes here. She agreed with Susanne’s point that there are continuing challenges and new risks, like services that don’t have the knowledge and background to deliver support effectively, but work continues to ensure they build on what has been achieved so far.
Gordon MacRae also noted that the choices made in Glasgow now demonstrate success, but pointed out that it would be helpful to know what the next steps are. He pointed to the Vanguard Cities report and the asks outlined in it, such as having data evidence to demonstrate the success and understanding what capacity and resources are needed to sustain progress in the city.
Lorraine McGrath said that Covid-19 helped to accelerate the work but progress was already underway. She highlighted that support from the Scottish Government during the pandemic helped this and allowed services to work together to respond effectively. She also wanted to understand what is now needed to maintain this success and pointed out the flow of people needing support hasn’t changed, and that it’s important to understand how this could this be addressed. She pointed to the work of the access hub, which has allowed a multi-agency response to develop and their rapid response keeps this all going. It has enabled a no-wrong door approach, which is key to continuing to tackling this issue. She highlighted that investment is needed to drive this forward and also that the patrician model continues to put pressure on this work.
Ms Robison thanked members for their input. She agreed that the learning from this approach can be used elsewhere. She suggested that the progress made in digital inclusion might be helpful here and said that it was important to remain ambitious.
3. Temporary accommodation
Ms Robison then asked Karen Grieve and Marion Gibbs to provide members with an update on the challenges faced by local authorities, particularly in the context of temporary accommodation and arrivals from Ukraine.
Karen began by providing members with an update on work that is underway to update the HL3 guidance for local authorities. Scottish Government statistical colleagues issued updated HL3 guidance in May, which will support local authorities to record Unsuitable Accommodation Order (UAO) breaches in accordance with the legislation. There had been no uptake on the proposed virtual session for local authorities on the UAO legislation and the reporting of breaches. Karen also highlighted that the first Temporary Accommodation (TA) Task and Finish group meeting is scheduled for 22 June.
Karen advised members that the new TA standards framework working group last met in March, but work has continued since then to update the standards. These have now been issued to the working group and wider stakeholders for review, and comments on the standards should be provided by 17 June. Finally, Karen advised members that work was ongoing to identify a date to lay the Local Connection SSI in Parliament, but said this is likely to come into force later this year.
Marion was then asked to give members an update on the impact displaced Ukrainians were having on local authorities in Scotland. Marion highlighted that the Scottish Government understands that all local authorities are impacted by this and that monitoring has been put in place to allow officials to understand the full picture. Local authorities are very keen to be involved in offering support to those fleeing the conflict and have really stepped up to do so, but we are yet to see the full impact of this in Scotland. She highlighted that the Scottish Government, local government and the third sector are working well to manage this and that updates can be provided as they are established. Officials are also preparing further advice to ministers on the Afghan resettlement scheme and, again, more information can be provided once this is finalised.
Marion then went on to provide members with an update on the Court of Session Judgement in Glasgow, which will have major impact on local authorities once the legal proceedings have concluded. She also talked about the recent Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court judgement, which has been embraced by Fife Council. Fife Council is now looking at how this can be used to accelerate their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTP) implementation and John Mills’ input was invited.
John advised members that there are currently record numbers of people in TA across Scotland and that work is needed to address this to enable the move to RRTPs by default. He went on to say that, following the judgement in Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, Fife Council is working through their current tenancies and phase one of their action plan will see around 200 tenancies flipped to permanent accommodation. Work is ongoing to understand how other households, including families with children, can be moved into settled homes.
Susanne advised members that once the legal proceedings from the Court of Session judgement in Glasgow have concluded, they will work to understand this and take forward any relevant actions.
Ms Robison thanked officials and members for this information and suggested it may be useful to revisit the discussion around the Court of Session judgement once this has concluded. She also highlighted that it would be interesting to see how the work underway in Fife Council progresses. John offered to meet with the Cabinet Secretary to discuss this further.
Gordon went on to highlight that there was an opportunity with the Court of Session judgement to see what this means for other services across Scotland and how this impacts policy making, particularly as the new Housing Bill develops.
Cllr Parry also wanted to advise members that she was part of the Ukraine integration group, which she co-chairs with Neil Gray MSP. She highlighted that Scotland is facing the perfect storm with everything that is happening at the moment, such as the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine, but said that COSLA is continuing to offer their support and will work through these challenges with local authorities and the Scottish Government.
Ms Robison reflected that moving people through the system and into settled homes was a difficult process but things are progressing in the right direction and that this is a key priority that the group will revisit.
- SG officials will work with John Mills to arrange a meeting with Ms Robison on the Fife Council Implementation Plan response.
4. Group updates
The Cabinet Secretary then invited members to give brief verbal updates on:
- task and finish groups;
- the timetable and next steps for prevention duties;
- the latest RRTP subgroup meeting update (paper one) and;
- the Change Team (paper two).
Janine advised members that the remits, chairs and membership of the four task and finish groups had been agreed. The group on temporary accommodation, which is due to meet for the first time on 22 June, arguably has the most challenging remit of all as it needs to find ways to turn the dial on the statistics. The new prevention duties task and finish group has a planning session in the diary for 20 June and will have its first meeting shortly after that once arrangements have been confirmed.
The third group is on measuring the progress towards ending homelessness and will involve thinking about the outcomes monitoring framework and how to measure progress of the Ending Homelessness Together action plan. There have already been two design sessions to inform development of the group’s work, with a third design session planned in July. The task and finish group will then meet from August. The shared accommodation group will consider the shared spaces report and the role it should play in the transition to RRTPs. The first meeting for this group will be in August.
Janine thanked members for their offers to chair and participate in these groups and invited comments from members.
Shea Moran asked what the plans were to engage with those with lived experience and Janine highlighted that all of the groups would include people with lived experience on them and that invitations had been sent via Ginny at Homeless Network Scotland so that Change Team representatives could be identified.
Matt Downie said that he chairs the equivalent of HPSG in Wales. He said that, based on the Welsh experience, he has learned how important it is to pin down the ‘finish’ part of task and finish groups: each group will need an agreed plan to show how they will wrap up and deliver on the remit.
Pamela McBride was then asked to give an update on the work underway on the new prevention duties. She began by thanking everyone for responses to the consultation, which closed on 8 April after a short extension. Scottish Government officials are working through these responses and will publish these in due course. They are also in the process of appointing an external organisation to undertake formal analysis of the responses and expect to be in a position to confirm the successful bidder in the coming weeks.
Pamela highlighted to members that they anticipate having an initial report by mid-June to help inform the legal drafting of the duties and a final report by the end of August. We will continue to engage with key stakeholders throughout this process. It remains our intention that the introduction of the prevention duties will be via the Housing Bill in year 2 of this parliament. This work will also be discussed within the prevention duties task and finish group.
John was then asked to give a brief update on the latest RRTP subgroup meeting and pointed members to the paper that had been shared prior to the meeting for the full detail. He did want to highlight the recent successful RRTP co-ordinators event that took place in early May, which featured an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) masterclass and a session of the importance of lived experience in developing the plans.
John also highlighted that it was agreed that domestic abuse should be one of the main priorities for RRTPs in 2022-23 and the subgroup suggested that the Scottish Government and COSLA host a joint event in August for Housing Convenors to promote domestic abuse pathways as a priority. Cllr Parry agreed this would be a useful event.
Louise Thompson was then invited to provide an update on the Change Team. This was in place of Martin Boyle who was unable to attend today. Louise highlighted that the Change Team had now voted on the six priorities that they will focus on over the next year: one of these was poverty and how this can lead to homelessness. Work was also underway on a road show where Change Leads would tour the country and learn where progress is being made. Finally, Louise reiterated that the Change Team would play a key role in the task and finish groups over the coming months.
- SG officials will work with John Mills and COSLA on an event to promote domestic abuse pathways as a RRTP priority in 2022-23.
5. AOB and close
Ms Robison then asked Andrew Weild to give members a brief update on the first housing affordability working group meeting (paper three).
Andrew started by highlighting that the short life group had already met and this was chaired by Professor Ken Gibb. The group is expected to meet five times and complete their work within 12 months. At the next meeting the aim will be to design focus group work to consult the population more widely. The results will be fed back for discussion at a future meeting.
Andrew then went on to talk about two key questions that were discussed. The first question was on the term housing affordability and what was wrong with how this is used. He highlighted that working group members thought the term didn’t mean very much, that it can often mean different things to different people and that it’s not always just about rent but also other housing costs and the cost of living.
The second question was about what the biggest gain would be from having a shared understanding of the term housing affordability. Members of the working group thought that this would allow better understanding and evaluation of housing policies, could be a catalyst for change, it could help to empower tenants and also identify those most in need of support.
Ms Robison said that these were very good questions but noted that they are not easy to answer.
John said that to reach a common definition would be hard but really advantageous if it was possible. He felt we should consider the whole cost of a home, but noted that Scotland doesn’t have all the levers, i.e. full control over social security and energy markets.
Aaron Hill highlighted that affordability can’t just be about rent levels and said that we need to consider the whole cost of the home. He suggested the need to be ambitious in agreeing a definition but noted that the more ambitious the group is, the harder it will be to achieve this. This is because Scotland doesn’t have full control over welfare and this is something that must be considered.
Janine asked members if they had any further reflections on the two questions following the meeting to get in touch with her or Andrew.
Members were then invited to raise any other business.
Lorraine asked Ms Robison, in addition to the written update provided, if the group could have an update on the National Care Service and what the current position is for homelessness services in this area. Lorraine suggested that this is kept as a live discussion going forward.
Ms Robison noted that it would be useful to continue to discuss this. She advised members that discussions with Mr Stewart are ongoing and that he is fully aware of the issues for homelessness services here. Janine highlighted to members that the deputy director in National Care Service division (Anna Kynaston) has offered to join the next HPSG meeting to answer any questions.
The next meeting will take place in September and a date will be confirmed with members shortly.
- Janine asked that if members have any feedback following the meeting today on housing affordability to contact her or Andrew.
- SG officials will add the National Care Service to the agenda for the next meeting and invite Anna Kynaston.
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