Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group minutes: May 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group on 23 May 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Paul McLennan, Minister for Housing (Co-chair)
  • Cllr Maureen Chalmers, Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, COSLA (Co-chair)
  • Mike Callaghan, COSLA
  • John Mills, ALACHO
  • Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland
  • Neil Cowan on behalf of Matt Downie, Crisis UK
  • Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community Scotland
  • Maggie Brunjes, Homeless Network Scotland
  • Aaliya Seyal, Legal Services Agency
  • Ruth Robin, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Sally Thomas, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Gary Quinn on behalf of Susanne Millar, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership
  • Shea Moran, Aff the Streets
  • Gary Neil on behalf of Kate Polson, Rock Trust
  • Martin Boyle, Change Team
  • Catherine Whitaker, SOLACE

Also in attendance

  • Joe Brown, Scottish Government
  • Catriona MacKean, Scottish Government
  • Janine Kellett, Scottish Government
  • Karen Grieve, Scottish Government
  • Abbie Darge, Scottish Government
  • Louise Thompson, Scottish Government
  • Myra Quinn, Scottish Government
  • Kerry Shaw, Scottish Government
  • David Pentland, Scottish Government


  • Janice Stevenson, LGBT Youth
  • Kate Polson, the Rock Trust
  • Jules Oldham, Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Angela Keith, SOLACE


Items and actions


PM welcomed everyone to the group and explained that his remit includes affordable housing, empty homes, rural homes, purpose built student accommodation, short term lets, cladding and homelessness.

Presentation of the Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group’s final report

AW and JM presented on the report and recommendations of the Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group. The challenges faced by local authorities and across the housing sector to reduce use of temporary accommodation must be addressed immediately to avoid further pressure.

A total of 15 recommendations have been made across three priority areas: new supply; maximising the use of existing stock; and providing the right support and funding.

Discussion in response to the final report

PM thanked both AW and JM for their work and said he recognised the urgency required. He said there will be a full response to the recommendations shortly.  He is keen for the recommendations that will make the biggest difference most quickly to be prioritised. PM advised that he will set up a ministerial oversight group on homelessness to encourage collective responsibility for preventing and ending homelessness.

PM advised that he had already met with the housing convenors from Edinburgh and Glasgow and is awaiting their proposed solutions. PM wants to continue meeting the local authorities with the greatest temporary accommodation pressures to understand their local circumstances and the different solutions each requires.

AS noted that the housing sector needs to take an equalities perspective and training on equalities should be mandatory. 

LM reminded members of the capacity within the third sector to contribute to the challenges in temporary accommodation.  She noted, however, that the homelessness workforce is less supported than the workforce in other parts of the adult social care system.

ST added that homelessness is not equally spread across Scotland and some areas require more intensive support.


  • Update HPSG members on the ministerial oversight group on homelessness when established. 
  • Scottish Government to share its response to the recommendations of the task and finish group on temporary accommodation when published.

Group updates

JK updated on the three other task and finish groups.

  • Prevention: members have produced a comprehensive report, which is in its final stages and should be available shortly
  • Measuring Progress: the group will report after summer
  • Supported Accommodation: the group is due to report in the autumn

Housing Review Group

JB shared the emerging work on Ukraine resettlement and the joint governance arrangements associated with this group. Housing to 2040 and Ending Homelessness Together remain the right long term plans, but the Housing Review Group was established to address the additional pressures created as a result of the humanitarian response.

The Housing Review Group will identify ways to accelerate the delivery of affordable homes using existing resource.  Data collected from ALACHO and COSLA will be considered. JB expects a lot of this work will have progressed by the end of September and committed to reporting to HPSG on a regular basis.

RRTP Update

JM advised that at the most recent meeting, there was agreement that RRTPs should be re-set to recognise the current challenges for local areas as well as the prevention duties. JM noted a move to a more outcomes focused approach by local authorities when returning information to the Scottish Government.

Change Team Update

MB updated on the work of the Change Team and shared four priorities identified from their Taking the Temperature report:

  1. people first – choice based letting and better quality temporary accommodation
  2. less competitive tendering – move to more ethical commissioning models with longer funding cycles. Promote partnership working, not competitive working. There needs to be a transition if a project’s funding ends
  3. better, fairer housing – engagement with support workers needs to be consistent and regular
  4. support workers – keep caseloads low to avoid burnout. Recognise re-traumatisation can occur and staff often need support themselves to support others


  • RRTP minute and Change Team report to be shared with HPSG members


LM raised the potential pressure the humanitarian crisis in Sudan could place on local authorities, and that clarity was needed around this. LM also queried the role of HPSG now and what its next steps might be.

PM recognised the concerns around Sudan and is chairing a short term working group on the Ukrainian response which could provide a forum to raise these concerns. CM reflected that, with Housing to 2040 Strategic Board now established, it is a good to consider this alongside this group, the proposed Ministerial Oversight Group and the task and finish groups. HPSG needs to evolve to ensure it remains as effective as possible.


  • review of HPSG role and its relationship to other groups 
  • Scottish Government to provide clarification on the Sudanese response. [NB The clarification below was provided after the meeting by JB.]

Clarification on the response to displaced Sudanese people

There is no UK Government programme for Sudan. The UK Government did evacuate people from the country but, once here, it is left to individuals to settle themselves as they are, in the main, either British Nationals or their dependents. However, some people are claiming asylum and will enter that system.

The latest briefing from the City of Edinburgh Council, which has had higher than expected requests for support, is that the initial spike has passed and numbers are now very low. To date in Edinburgh around 40 people arrived from Sudan, the majority of whom presented as homeless. This is being monitoring weekly with City of Edinburgh Council and COSLA officials.

Date of next meeting

Scottish Government officials to confirm the date of the next HPSG meeting.

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