Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group: Prevention Task and Finish Group - minutes March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 30 March 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Matt Downie, co-chair and Crisis
  • Ewan Aitken, co-chair and Cyrenians
  • Michael Wood, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland
  • Elizabeth Cooper, Scottish Prison Service
  • Mike Callaghan, COSLA
  • Emma Doyle, Public Health Scotland
  • David Ramsay, Homeless Network Scotland (HNS)
  • Gordon MacRae, Shelter
  • Shea Moran, All in for Change Team (AifC)
  • Suzie Mcilloney, All in for Change Team
  • Eileen McMullan, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Karen Swift, Turning Point Scotland (attending in place of Nicky Millar)
  • Grant McPhail, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Richard Thomson, Community Justice Scotland

Also in attendance

  • Rhiannon Sims, secretariat and Crisis
  • James Mullaney, Crisis
  • Neil Cowan, Crisis
  • Jules Oldham, Cyrenians
  • Ursula Hofeldt, Cyrenians
  • Janine Kellett, Scottish Government
  • Pamela McBride, Scottish Government


  • James Marple, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
  • Laura Hoskins, Community Justice Scotland (Richard Thomson attending)
  • Avril McKay, Public Health, NHS Lothian
  • Nicky Millar, Turning Point Scotland
  • Angela Keith, SOLACE
  • Sherina Peek, ALACHO
  • Sharon Egan, West Housing Options Hub 

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction

Matt Downie welcomed members to the meeting and set out that the meeting will focus on resourcing principles, the draft report and refining the recommendations. He noted that although new First Minister, Cabinet Secretary and Housing Minister have been appointed, the chairs do not envision any changes to the legislative programme and the working assumption is still that the Housing Bill will be introduced as soon as possible after the summer recess. 

Approval of minutes from previous meeting

Matt Downie confirmed no changes had been received to the minutes. Emma Doyle noted the reference to a PHS resource was incorrect in the last minute and should be a resource shared from a London organisation. 

Matters arising



The chair noted that as resourcing had been mentioned at every meeting, the group should now consider the principles they wish the Scottish Government to include when considering additional funding needed to effectively implement the legislation. He noted that without detail on the Bill, it is not appropriate or possible for the group to cost the proposals and that the Scottish Government homelessness prevention team will draft a financial memorandum in support of the Bill. 

Paper 3 provides information on the New Burdens funding which was provided to local authorities to support the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act in England. It was noted that the Scottish proposals are more far-reaching so funding requirements will differ, but the paper provides a useful starting point for discussion. 

Principles to underpin resourcing the legislative change

  • Shelter research on cost of not providing prevention help and cost to public sector of social sector eviction
  • Cyrenians follow-up work in Edinburgh with figures from presentation to settled housing may act as comparator
  • Homelessness Reduction Act only allocated £3m for IT and data monitoring which will be insufficient to set up centralised database, to support transition or upgrade
  • Cymru Shelter report on retraining makes clear there are lessons to learn on how to spend well, and costs of culture change work
  • there will be need to consider cost of housing support, as preventing homelessness requires greater intensity of support
  • there will also be costs to other services not just local authorities
  • early intervention and prevention can make savings in long term but in current climate, it is difficult to redirect resource without creating gaps
  • there will be transition costs (short term and long term)
  • savings should be considered as well as costs
  • need to resource community-based organisations and advice agencies too
  • need to start from principles of rights based system. Consideration should be given also to the ethics of imposing new burdens if new resources are not attached

Consideration of draft report

The group considered the draft report and the list of recommendations with 12 steps setting out what is needed and where we are trying to get to. Specific points raised included:

  • the tone and framing of the report and the need for a person-centred approach
  • language (specifically around the label of homeless) and system readiness for change 
  • the need for a targeted public awareness raising campaign
  • government should better respond to people with no resource to public funds
  • two separate duties, ‘ask’ and then ‘act’
  • data sharing and a single electronic record
  • the role of the Scottish Housing Regulator and other regulators
  • the role of education and social care
  • the role of Community Justice Planning Partnerships
  • embedding lived experience throughout the report
  • the importance of co-design with frontline staff and people with lived experience
  • cross-organisational collaboration and cooperation
  • the role for a lead in each of the public bodies
  • cross-sector training


The chair thanked the group for their feedback and participation, reminded them to submit further comments and closed the meeting. 

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