Homelessness Strategy and Prevention Group minutes: September 2022
- Local Government and Housing Directorate
- Part of
Minutes from the meeting held on 21 September 2022.
Attendees and apologies
- Shona Robison, Co-Chair and Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
- Cllr Maureen Chalmers, Co-Chair and Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, COSLA
- Aaliya Seyal, Legal Services Agency
- Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland
- Eileen McMullan, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
- Jo Ozga, Scottish Women’s Aid
- John Mills, ALACHO
- Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community/Streetwork
- Maggie Brunjes, Homeless Network Scotland
- Martin Boyle, Change Team
- Martin McKenna, Public Health Scotland
- Matt Downie, Crisis UK
- Mike Callaghan, COSLA
- Ruth Robin, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Sally Thomas, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
- Shea Moran, Aff the Streets
- Angela Keith, SOLACE
- Janice Stevenson, LGBT Youth
- Susanne Millar, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership
Also in attendance
- Catriona MacKean, Scottish Government
- Janine Kellett, Scottish Government
- Melanie Goodfellow, Scottish Government
- Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
- Pamela McBride, Scottish Government
- Anna Kynaston, Deputy Director for the Scottish Government’s National Care Service Team
Items and actions
Welcome and introductions
The Cabinet Secretary welcomed members, especially Cllr Maureen Chalmers who was joining for the first time as COSLA’s recently appointed Community Wellbeing Spokesperson.
As there was a full agenda, members were advised that the link to the published minutes from the June meeting had already been circulated and any amendments were to be sent directly to homelessness officials.
Cllr Chalmers said she was looking forward to meeting and working with everyone.
Programme for Government 2022-2023
The Cabinet Secretary summarised the plans for temporary measures to protect tenants from the worst impacts of the cost crisis in the recently published Programme for Government (PfG). The First Minister also said as part of the PfG announcement that, should further resources become available, then tackling the cost of living pressures would be a priority.
The Cabinet Secretary said she was aware that any action taken to cap rents has consequences and it was important to work with stakeholders to mitigate any negative impacts.
She advised members that the Tenant Grant Fund’s eligibility criteria has been extended to provide help to those with more recent rent arrears.
Alison Watson said that the emergency legislation in progress is broadly welcomed by Shelter Scotland but that Shelter Scotland helpline staff need information so they can advise people on their rights.
Some raised concerns about the legislation, particularly around rent freezes and the potential impact on new build programmes. It was noted that social rents are consistently lower than private rents.
Catriona MacKean advised members that she would feed these comments back to the team leading on the legislative changes.
The Cabinet Secretary added that information on any changes would be clearly communicated to all stakeholders.
- Catriona MacKean to feed back to the team leading on this work
National Care Service (NCS)
The Cabinet Secretary advised members that she had continued to meet with Mr Stewart to discuss the NCS.
Lorraine McGrath said it was still unclear if the adult social care needs of people experiencing homelessness would be part of the national plan.
Anna Kynaston, Deputy Director for the Scottish Government’s National Care Service team, advised members that providers regulated by the Care Inspectorate would be subject to the new governance structure. Lorraine advised that not all care is regulated and that the homelessness sector works with people with significant health and social care needs.
Anna offered to meet with Lorraine and other homelessness sector experts about this to ensure relevant stakeholders are included in the co-design of the process. Anna and Janine Kellett will organise this. This offer was welcomed by members and some, including Maggie Brunjes who is co-chairing the task and finish group on supported accommodation, asked to be involved in discussions.
- Anna Kynaston and Janine Kellett to organise discussions between homelessness stakeholders and NCS colleagues
- the Cabinet Secretary asked for the feedback from these discussions to be discussed at the next meeting and fed back to members as they progressed
Health and homelessness data linkage
The Cabinet Secretary invited Ruth Robin and Martin McKenna to give members an update on the health and homelessness data linkage work.
Martin explained that local authorities submit a subset of the HL1 data to Public Health Scotland along with personal identifiers which means health and social care data can be linked to datasets. This allows for examination of HL1 applicant interactions with health services. Social care is a dataset not currently linked but this is something that could be revisited.
Ruth agreed that she would continue to share updates on this work as it progresses.
Cllr Chalmers thanked Ruth for this update and said that she could encourage local authorities to engage with this work through her role at COSLA.
Maggie stressed the importance of applying the learning from this process to the development of the outcomes framework which will be led by another task and finish group.
- Cllr Chalmers will encourage local authorities to engage with HIS and PHS on this work
Support for displaced people from Ukraine: managing risks and challenges
The Cabinet Secretary began by acknowledging the points raised in the letter from the Everyone Home Collective. She was clear that there should be no hierarchy involved when finding homes for those in need.
The Cabinet Secretary said she was keen to explore the constructive solutions proposed by the Everyone Home Collective and the task and finish group on temporary accommodation. She noted that the Scottish Government is already taking action on some of the recommendations but was interested in understanding where this can go further.
The Cabinet Secretary then invited Marion Gibbs to update the group on the discussion at the last RRTP subgroup meeting around responding to the risks and needs of refugees while managing accommodation pressures.
Marion started by highlighting that the principle of parity applies to everyone facing homelessness in Scotland, whether they are from Ukraine, Afghanistan or domiciled in Scotland. If hosting arrangements come to an end and there is no further matching for Ukrainian Displaced People, homelessness legislation will act as a safety net as it does for Scottish households.
She noted that the annual homelessness statistics could be impacted and Scottish Government statistical colleagues are exploring a more formal data collection on the impact.
Maggie Brunjes highlighted that it is increasingly hard for services to manage. She noted that people seeking asylum from other countries and the cost crisis were compounding the Ukrainian crisis, and that there is a need for intervention and investment to allow local authorities to manage.
Lorraine McGrath added that the main area of risk is around the breakdown of hosting which triggers the homelessness legislation. She said that Ukrainian arrivals do appear to be prioritised, for example, when accessing the benefit system. This means that other people in the homelessness system have to demonstrate a higher level of need to access services. She stressed the need to work with DWP to address these disparities.
The Cabinet Secretary noted that local authorities with greater temporary accommodation challenges were affected more. Many Ukrainian Displaced People want to live in areas where there is an existing Ukrainian community, and persuading people to move outside of the central belt is difficult. This is being looked at in terms of the revised offer for Ukrainian Displaced People, with rapid work to help them into employment.
John Mills advised members that Scotland needs more houses quickly and that a national acquisition programme could help to achieve this. He suggested that this would help move people out of temporary accommodation at pace.
The Cabinet Secretary said that full consideration would be given to build on activity already underway, whether that is a national acquisition programme or not. In some areas, there are not many available properties and we can only acquire what is there to be acquired. She advised that bids for capital funding from local authorities to bring properties back into use are not necessarily coinciding with the areas of greatest pressure. It is important to look at how we can harness offers from other local authorities to move Ukrainian Displaced People outwith the central belt.
Jo Ozga highlighted that Scottish Women’s Aid’s main concern is that there is a lack of support for women and children who have experienced sexual violence on their journey over to Scotland when fleeing Ukraine.
Aaliyah Seyal suggested that stories of successful resettlement in other areas should be communicated more widely to help address any misconceptions and encourage people to consider other areas of Scotland.
The Cabinet Secretary agreed and advised members that all of this was part of the ongoing considerations.
- the Cabinet Secretary and homelessness officials will provide further updates for members when they become available
Brief verbal updates were given by:
- Alison Watson and John Mills – on the work of the Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group
- Janine Kellett – on plans for publication of the Ending Homelessness Together annual report
- Pamela McBride – on the prevention duties consultation analysis
- Martin Boyle – on the Change Team’s work
Alison Watson gave members a brief update on the task and finish group work and how lived experience input has enhanced the group’s understanding of where people feel compromised around their choices. The group has developed interim recommendations but needs more time to refine them. John Mills reiterated the need for more housing and said one of the aims of the group is ending the use of unsuitable accommodation.
The Cabinet Secretary suggested that local authorities need to find local solutions and highlighted the meetings she has been having with housing convenors to better understand the challenges for local areas.
Janine Kellett gave members an update on the publication of the Ending Homelessness Together annual report. It will be published later in October and will be a shorter, sharper update on the progress that has been made over the last twelve months in spite of current challenges. Janine will advise members of a date once this has been set.
Pamela McBride gave members a brief update on the publication of the prevention duties consultation analysis and timeline for publication. Catriona MacKean agreed to keep everyone updated on progress with the forthcoming Housing Bill.
Martin Boyle from the Change Team was then invited to give his update where he advised that over last four months, mission statements have been created, which have been shared with their members for information. He also gave a quick overview of the roadshows, which had been well received. The Cabinet Secretary offered to attend a roadshow to see how they operate in practice.
- Janine Kellett will advise members of the annual report publication date once this is set
- Catriona MacKean will keep members updated on the progress of the Housing Bill
Any other business and close
Sally Thomas provided members with an overview of the progress of the Homelessness Prevention Fund. The projects are now in year two and are progressing well. Common themes identified across the eleven projects include an increasing number of referrals, developing a whole family approach to support the whole household, a high support demand for people with mental health issues, domestic abuse and unmet support needs. The Cabinet Secretary asked Sally to circulate the update to members for their information.
The Cabinet Secretary then invited Jo Ozga to talk to the paper on the ‘Gendered analysis of the cost of living crisis’ that had been shared with members. Jo highlighted that many women lack the financial resources to leave an abusive partner.
The next meeting date is currently scheduled for early December 2022, and officials will contact members when the date is confirmed. The Cabinet Secretary thanked everyone for their input and closed the meeting.
- Sally Thomas to circulate the Homelessness Prevention Fund update to members for information
- homelessness officials will circulate the next meeting date to members once this is set
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