Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group minutes: August 2016

Minutes of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group, chaired by Cllr Harry McGuigan, in August 2016.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Cllr Harry McGuigan (Chair)
  • Bill Barron, Scottish Government
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Julie Hunter, ALACHO
  • Graeme Brown, Shelter Scotland
  • Robert Aldridge, Homeless Action Scotland
  • Peter Barry, SOLACE
  • Neil Hamlet, NHS Health Scotland
  • Zhan McIntyre, SFHA
  • Silke Isbrand, COSLA
  • Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
  • Matt Howarth, Scottish Government
  • Lynsey McKean, Scottish Government
  • Susan Carsley, Scottish Government
  • Kim Reimann, Scottish Government
  • Josie Knowles, Scottish Government


  • Michael McClements, COSLA

Items and actions

Introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed everybody to the meeting and noted apologies as recorded above.

Minutes of last meeting

The minute of the last meeting was agreed.

(i) Lynsey McKean gave an update on outstanding Scottish Government actions. As part of this update, a detailed discussion took place regarding the availability of support for prisoners to secure accommodation upon liberation. Graeme Brown expressed concern about the time it is taking for the National Strategy for Community Justice to be published. He asked who is taking responsibility for driving the strategy forward and who is taking responsibility for supporting prisoners both during their prison sentence and upon liberation.

Lynsey McKean set out practice that is taking place on the ground and of ongoing work between SG Homelessness team, SPS and local authorities, and explained that while the strategy is being drafted this work will remain ongoing. Julie Hunter added that work is taking place across local authorities in Scotland, and specifically she referred to the work of the West of Scotland Housing Options Hub and told the group that it is intended that an SPS representative will sit on the West Hub. Julie also said that Health had a big part to play.

Tony Cain said that support for prisoners was inconsistent across Scotland. He argued that we needed a mechanism for commissioning services for prisoners and a national vision to unite local authorities, SPS and the Criminal Justice system as a whole.

ACTION: A paper to be drafted which maps out the work taking place in this area, setting out how each of the components feed into each other. (SG to action)

(ii) The Chair invited Silke Isbrand to update the group on wording she would like to put forward for the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy. It was decided the best way to agree the wording was for Silke to e-mail members and agreement to be reached in this manner.

Draft HPSG workplan

The Chair commenced by asking what the key priorities are that the Group would like to take forward from the workplan. It was acknowledged that the workplan contains a mixture of everyday operational issues as well as more strategic ones.

The Chair proposed that the group formulates two or three actions/improvements/changes that the group focuses on over the next year, and that would define success.

A discussion took place around the focus of the group and the ability for it to measure where it as a high level, strategic platform is making a difference. It was considered right that a full range of issues were included in the workplan, but the Group would also take a particularly close look at a small number of critical issues.

Questions were also raised about the relationship between the Housing Options Hubs and HPSG; what influence does HPSG have over the work of the Hubs? Lynsey pointed out that the relationship between the Hubs and HPSG was detailed in the workplan and that there were actions suggested that members could explore which could help to improve members understanding of the work of the Hubs. Julie also pointed out the West Hub use the minutes of HPSG meetings and its workplan to inform the West Hub’s annual action plan.

The Group agreed the following:

It will monitor all elements of the workplan to avoid slippages but also as a mechanism to flag up areas that may be developing into an issue.

It will also drive forward new policy and focus on two concrete outcomes for the year. HPSG members agreed to focus on:

(i) the provision of temporary accommodation in light of UK Welfare reform; and (ii) health and homelessness and complex needs.

ACTION: Lynsey to present workplan at second officers meeting of 2016/17 to discuss progress made on the agreed two commitments.

Temporary and Supported Accommodation

Temporary Accommodation

Marion Gibbs explained that the localised management fee is being actively considered by Scottish Government officials who are drafting a formula for the allocation of the funding that may come through the Barnet consequentials. If this funding is agreed then this will go some way to meet the gap between LHA rates and the cost of temporary accommodation.

SG officials and ALACHO are conducting work to consider the long term model for temporary accommodation, ensuring it is fit for purpose, effectively structured and efficiently run. This may require local authorities to think differently about the provision of temporary accommodation. Tony Cain spoke about meeting the manifesto commitment around temporary accommodation being the same standard as settled accommodation. He said that this may not only be about the quality of the accommodation but also the experience of the homeless person. However he did feel more work was required on the issue of B&B accommodation – we need to understand why, and how, it should be used.

Supported Accommodation

Marion Gibbs explained that the Scottish Government is waiting on the outcomes of the UK Government’s review of the funding of supported accommodation. The SG has made several representations to the UK Government to encourage them to consider exempting supported accommodation from proposed welfare cuts. It will continue to lobby the UK Government on this issue while awaiting the outcomes of the review.

Scottish Government Updates

Statistics - Susan Carsley introduced herself as the new SG lead statistician for this Group, taking over from Andrew Waugh. Susan said she was happy to receive feedback or suggestions about what members would find helpful in terms of a statistics update. For the purposes of this meeting, she would go through the statistics published in July and would arrange for her presentation to be sent on to members.

She explained that going forward homelessness statistics would be published every 6 months, instead of quarterly. The publication of housing options statistics would follow the same pattern. HL3 statistics – time spent in temporary accommodation is a future project, but when they are ready to be published, this will also take place on a six monthly basis.

Andrew Waugh remains the lead for the data linkage project between health and homelessness. It appeared all 32 local authorities had signed up to this data collection process.

The Group agreed that it would be useful to be provided with statistical data in advance of meetings.

ACTION : Lynsey to send Susan’s presentation to members.

The Group would also like that the biannual statistics is tabled as the first item on the agenda for the meeting following the publication and the data linkages project should also be featured on the agenda when the results of that become available.

ACTION: Table statistics update as first item on the agenda for the meeting following January statistics publication.

Homelessness and Young People – Matt Howarth provided an update explaining that the Group had requested this as a standing item following the Parliamentary inquiry into youth homelessness in the previous Parliament. That inquiry is now complete and the Group may wish to consider how this agenda item is used in the future.

For 2015/16, youth homelessness statistics fell by 9% on the previous year. The main reason for youth homelessness is due to being asked to leave the family home; 14% higher than any other group.

There has been some re-timing of delivery in policy areas previously reported to the Group such as potential extension of further rights to support for care leavers and the Missing Persons Strategy, with the launch of the latter delayed while more evidence from pilot projects is collected.

Supported Accommodation for Young People – Matt has contacted all local authorities following a request from the Minister, to gather data on the models of provision being implemented across Scotland.

Any other business

ACTION: Lynsey to arrange meeting dates for the year ahead.


Lynsey McKean Housing Support and Homelessness Unit Better Homes Division

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