Attendees and apologies
- Jim Hayton, Scotland’s Housing Network (Chair)
- Allan Jones, Aberdeenshire Council
- Andrea Elliot, North Ayrshire Council
- Hugh Hill, Simon Community Scotland
- Lisa Borthwick, Shelter Scotland
- Mike Callaghan, COSLA
- Moira Bayne, Housing Options Scotland
- Rhiannon Sims, Crisis
- Yvette Burgess, Housing Support Enabling Unit
- Karen Grieve, Scottish Government
- Louise Thompson, Scottish Government
- Ashley Campbell, Chartered Institute of Housing
- John Mills, ALACHO
- Myra Quinn, Scottish Government
- Eileen McMullan, SFHA
Items and actions
Welcome and agree 29 June minutes
Jim Hayton (JH) welcomed everyone to the seventh meeting of the Temporary Accommodation (TA) Standards working group. He gave an overview of his attendance at the HPSG Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group (TA TAFG) meeting the previous day where he had presented on the work of this group to date. JH described the TA TAFG’s aims – to focus on two or three recommendations which would make a significant impact on the numbers in TA in Scotland, e.g., upscaling acquisitions to increase the volume of TA units available. There are similar timescales for the TA TAFG and this one, but they each have a different remit and focus. JH also described a presentation given by Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership about work they are doing to address issues with TA and how they have improved their relationships with Housing Associations which has influenced allocations.
JH reflected that a lot of ground was covered at the last meeting and invited the room to make observations on the minute. The minute from the last meeting was agreed.
Scottish Housing Regulator meeting (SHR) – update
Karen Grieve (KG) – KG and Myra Quinn (MQ) met the SHR and had a positive discussion. The SHR agreed to partnership working to set indicators that help identify and measure gaps. There are two possible routes to enforcement of the TA standards, and the SHR supports either method:
- inclusion in the Scottish Social Housing Charter (scheduled to be reviewed at the latest in 2027) or
- inclusion in the Housing Standards Bill (scheduled for Year 4)
Both options provide local authorities with an informal implementation period in which to bring their TA stock up to the revised standards and allows for amendments to be made to the standards (if required) before being legally enforced.
The Year 3 Housing Bill had been considered as a vehicle for making the standards legally enforceable but the timescales for consultation on the TA standards did not fit with the bill timetable.
Scottish Government officials will liaise with the SHR once the framework has been implemented to determine what indicators might be set in order for LAs to assess their performance against and to provide data to confirm assurance of meeting the indicators. The SHR indicated that there could be difficulty in measuring some of the standards, for example, not all of the physical standards were material and would require exercising judgment of some sort.
JH reminded the group that it had been agreed that the standards should be legally enforceable as per the HARSAG recommendation but given that that the legislative process can be slow LAs should be free to make progress towards implementation once they are agreed.
Lisa Borthwick (LB) asked if there could be clarity on expectations for local authorities as we do not want them to delay implementation and this group exists at least in part because there is some TA stock that is still not fit for purpose.
KG said that local authorities are already working to the interim standards so we can encourage work to start immediately.
JH reminded the group that their focus is on improvement and asked for any best practice to be identified and shared, e.g., the service standard leaflet developed by Aberdeenshire.
Allan Jones (AJ) shared his perspective that local authorities are doing their best and most are not breaching the UAO. He also asked for the group to consider ‘reasonableness’ and how households’ expectations and aspirations are managed.
Not every authority has every type of property in every area, and he welcomed the inclusion of text on rural considerations in the standards. He also reminded the group that a focus on TA removes the focus on permanent solutions, and the TA offer cannot be better than the permanent offer or people will not want to move on.
AJ also reminded the group of the additional pressures arising from the Ukrainian resettlement programme.
JH agreed with AJ’s point. There is a risk where TA is of a higher standard than permanent homes, so we want to avoid the risk of creating a two-tier system and RRTPs need to ensure a long-term supply of good quality, permanent housing. Plus, the development and implementation of effective RRTPs has to remain the priority.
Andrea Elliott reminded the group that the default option for a long-term housing solution is not TA but there should be a prevention focus. The associated cost of TA is high and local authorities were unable to reduce the reliance upon TA due to COVID, Ukraine, etc.
Hugh Hill shared concerns about the impact of the cost of living crisis which is already being seen with people giving up secure tenancies to return to TA as they cannot afford their utility bills.
AJ echoed this and said that they are already seeing people selling their homes as they cannot afford to stay in them. The cost of living crisis is not only affecting people in tenancies but is impacting on homeowners as well.
JH agreed and advised there is an increase in the number of people being made homeless from the private sector. There is also a decrease in the number of registered landlords, which while possibly problematic could also present an opportunity for local authorities to increase their acquisitions from the PRS.
Discussion on Temporary Accommodation Standards Framework
JH thanked everyone for their comments on the draft standards. He commended MQ for her work in consolidating the comments and reflecting them in the new version of the standards which have been circulated to the group. The group concurred with JH’s recognition of MQ’s work here, which had allowed them to consider an almost final version of the standards. JH advised that he hoped the work could conclude in the near future although the standards are a living document which will need to be kept under review – and will be presented to the Cabinet Secretary and the Housing Prevention Strategy Group.
Action - JH asked the group to consider:
- what, if any, are the remaining ‘non-negotiables’?
- what will have implications for your organisation?
- what are the significant gaps?
AJ agreed that the general principles were sound but reminded the group to consider the ‘reasonableness’ of outcomes and thought that the footnotes in MQ’s draft are helpful as they provide background context to help explain what the standards are trying to achieve.
JH suggested that some context should also be added about TA not being the objective, or the end point, but to make it clear that sustainable permanent housing is the priority.
Moira Bayne felt that the standards did not take into account the level of trauma experienced by people entering TA.
LB will share edits with MQ but asked for some clarity on the monitoring process. The data gathered on UAO breaches is useful information and gives an opportunity to inform what support and resources might be needed for particular LAs. LAs need to be clear about what they cannot provide and where there are pressures on the system, e.g., limited housing options in rural areas. This feedback would provide information on which standards cannot be met and whether the standards need to be amended to reflect this.
- LB to share edits with MQ
JH shared John Mills’ view expressed the previous day at the TA Task and Finish Group that the biggest challenge is likely to be in meeting the location standards.
KG suggested that the informal group AJ chairs could provide a forum to identify the challenges and raise issues about where there is difficulty in meeting the standards. AJ agreed that the informal group would be a good forum.
Yvette Burgess (YB) queried if there should be a standard that is specific to support, e.g., include a support needs assessment similar to a household assessment on affordability.
- YB will share outcome monitoring tools suitable for this, e.g., Better Futures
Rhiannon Sims (RS) thought that there is a lack of clarity over who is responsible and accountable for all the standards, e.g., in some of the management standards is it the local authority or the housing association for repairs?
- RS to send suggested edits to MQ
JH recounted the lived experience input at the TA TAFG which showed people were not always clear on what they were and were not entitled to. He felt that one of the standards should be for LAs to adequately publicise the nature of their service and people’s rights.
AJ agreed that clarity on rights would be useful for local authorities. He felt there was a need for local authorities to be upfront and honest if they did not have accommodation in a particular area in which the household was looking to be placed. Although Aberdeenshire had produced a leaflet, it was not in the public domain. Other local authorities fed back that there was a reluctance to produce a leaflet as there was a fear they would be challenged if they could not achieve what was set out in it. KG suggested the Change Team could act as a critical friend in reviewing the leaflets.
In response to a question from JH on whether LAs would be happy to report to the SHR on people’s rights and what they can expect, AJ advised that they already do this through RRTP reporting, and that he did not see any issue with this.
KG asked that any comments are shared with MQ as some email engagement is required to agree the final version of the standards. There will then be a wider consultation process, plus feedback from LAs or homelessness organisations on any implementation issues to take into consideration. Feedback from the SHR when developing the indicators may alter the standards as well, so the version that this group signs off will not necessarily be the final version that is taken forward for legal enforcement.
- Working Group to email any comments on the standards framework to MQ
JH thanked the group for their time and contributions today and in the previous six meetings. The group agreed that one final meeting would take place towards the end of the year to conclude the group’s work.
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