Attendees and apologies
- Heather Buchan, North and Islands Hub
- Yvette Burgess, Housing Enabling Support Unit
- Callum Chomczuk, Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland
- Andrea Elliott, Ayrshire and South Hub
- Karen Grieve, Scottish Government
- Jim Hayton, Scotland’s Housing Network (Chair)
- Eileen McMullen, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
- John Mills, ALACHO and Fife Council
- Callum Neil, Homeless Network Scotland, Change Team
- Gary Quinn, West Hub
- Myra Quinn, Scottish Government
- Rhiannon Sims, Crisis
- Brian Stewart, Lothian and Borders Hub
- Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
- Lorna Cameron, Horizon Housing Association
- Mike Campbell, Scottish Association of Landlords
- Laura Caven, COSLA
- Olga Clayton, The Wheatley Group
- Hugh Hill, Simon Community Scotland
- Martin Smith, Fife and Central Hub
- Jade Wallace, Homeless Network Scotland, Change Team
Items and actions
Welcome and introductions
Karen Grieve (KG) welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the temporary accommodation standards framework Working Group (WG).
KG advised that the WG has representatives from across the housing and homelessness sector and thanked members for agreeing to participate. She welcomed input from members as we work in partnership to develop and agree a temporary accommodation standards framework.
KG asked everyone to introduce themselves, including their role and organisation they represent, what their expectations are and what they hope to get out of the group.
Jim Hayton (JH) introduced himself to the WG and gave a brief overview of the purpose and aims of the WG, his role as chair and a short biography of his career, including his previous roles and experience.
JH advised the WG that his role as chair is to be able to understand the sensitivities, provide constructive challenge, stimulate action and co-ordinate the group to develop and produce the standards framework while remaining sufficiently neutral to lead the work.
In October 2020, the Scottish Government published an updated Ending Homelessness Together action plan and committed to setting up a working group to develop a legally enforceable standards framework by the end of 2020, with the group aiming to bring forward concrete proposals in 2021.
However, significant reprioritisation of work towards the end of 2020 to support work on the Unsuitable Accommodation Order in response to covid delayed the start of this work.
The Scottish Government is now resuming this work and this working group has been established to help produce a new standards framework. This will be a short life WG, and its aim is to identify if legislative changes are required, consider how the framework can be applied and regulated (monitored, assessed, and recorded) and produce tangible processes to support this by mid-2022.
Members agreed that they all have the same objective, to improve the outcomes for people who are homeless, and that all communication from the WG to stakeholders must be open and transparent.
Working group terms of reference
JH started this item by asking for initial thoughts on the Terms of Reference (ToR), drafted by Scottish Government officials. He asked if the group felt anything was missing. Members agreed that the aims of the ToR were appropriate and that as the work progressed more aims/objectives may be added.
JH asked if the WG if any area or organisation was missing from the WG membership and, if so, he asked for suggestions to be made to address any gap. However, JH also asked the WG to bear in mind that the membership of the group needs to be manageable and that, when required, subgroups of relevant stakeholders can be convened to ensure that the WG receives the necessary input.
Members suggested there could be gaps in representation in relation to equality (including disability) and health (including mental health) and stressed the importance of involving people with lived experience.
KG advised that the WG is already represented by two members with lived experience from the HNS Change Team. She also advised that it was important the group did not become too large in size, which is why we said consultation with other people/groups would be undertaken on an ad hoc basis.
Gary Quinn (GQ) is the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) representative on the WG and that he could link in with the Head of Public Protection in the HSCP for health related issues.
Members agreed that the ToR should be updated to strengthen equality and health impacts in the aims of the WG.
Action – SG officials to update aims of ToR.
The WG agreed that when developing the standards framework, the group will also need to consult and take account of the views of the Scottish Housing Regulator and wider homelessness stakeholders.
JH mentioned examples of other organisations with an interest which included Scottish Women’s Aid, the Salvation Army, and the Scottish Refugee Council. He reiterated that although they haven’t been invited to join this group in order to keep the size of the working group manageable, their views would be very much welcomed.
Consequently, SG officials will collate views from other partners and feed these into meetings and guests may be invited to working group meetings to speak to specific agenda items.
JH advised that the group would provide updates to the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group on a regular basis and, where appropriate to do so, the views and approval of Scottish Ministers and Council Leaders will be sought for decisions made by the group. Members agreed to the proposal.
Discussion on aims and objectives of WG
JH referred the members to the supporting paper accompanying this item which will inform WG discussions on the agreed approach to produce a new standards framework for temporary accommodation.
The supporting paper provides information on what has been achieved so far, i.e., new advisory standards for temporary accommodation were published in the Homelessness Code of Guidance (November 2019) and the extension of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Amendment Order to all homeless households in May 2020.
The paper also provides background on why this WG has been created and what it expects to achieve.
JH indicated that there are 8 initial objectives listed on page 1 of the paper that the working group should consider and as mentioned under the ToR item, it is possible that more will be identified during our discussions.
JH advised that the objectives need to be considered alongside the consultation responses on enforceable standards from the 2019 consultation on improving temporary accommodation standards. A link to the consultation analysis was included in the supporting paper.
He went on to say that a summary of the consultation analysis is also available in the supporting paper for ease of reference.
Given that there are a number of initial objectives it would not be realistic to look at these all together and JH suggested that perhaps it would be better to look at these individually or in sections over the coming months/meetings.
JH sought the views of the WG on which objectives from the following should be considered first:
- how the new advisory standards can be incorporated into a temporary accommodation standards framework
- what are the necessary processes required to ensure the framework is implemented by local authorities
- whether legislative changes are needed in order to implement the framework
- what are the necessary timescales for the framework implementation
- consider the support local authorities may require to overcome any barriers they face as they work towards full implementation of the standards framework
- consider what the Scottish Government can do to help local authorities in their efforts to ensure compliance with the standards framework
- consider how the standards framework can be regulated (monitored, assessed, and reported), including who should take on the regulation role
In response to questions on whether legislation changes would be necessary to ensure that local authorities need to implement a standards framework Myra Quinn (MQ) advised that Scottish Government officials will liaise with legal colleagues to ascertain options.
Possible options include if further legislation will need to be laid in Parliament, although the legislative timetable is very full, and if a Code of Practice (CoP) could be added as an addendum to the Homelessness Code of Guidance (CoG).
If a CoP is included within the CoG, this would complement other regulations as well as provide detailed practical guidance on how local authorities need to comply with legal obligations within the CoG. Local authorities should follow this unless other regulations came into force to replace the CoP/CoG.
- SG officials to liaise with SG legal colleagues on the possible legislative routes as well as any potential implications arising from the implementation of a legally enforceable standards framework by local authorities
- members to send questions, views, and comments on the supporting paper to MQ who will condense and re-circulate before the next meeting
In response to how the standards framework can be regulated (monitored, assessed, and reported), MQ also answered questions on the role of the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) and who should take on the regulation role.
It was noted that HARSAG had recommended that they envisaged a role for the SHR in monitoring and assessing performance in meeting new standards. The consultation analysis indicated that 89% of responders agreed there was a role for SHR to scrutinise performance.
MQ advised that officials meet with SHR on a regular basis and will need to discuss and determine whether SHR have sufficient powers and resources to undertake such a role.
Action – SG officials to liaise with SHR to discuss their role in respect of a standards framework.
Discussion on development of the framework
- produce a new standards framework – proposed format, timescales, etc
- produce and agree processes to support this work – agree ownership, stakeholder review, etc
JH briefly outlined how this item links into item 4 and the development of a standards framework.
He mentioned that the WG needs to consider what the standards framework should look like (online/paper versions, etc) and determine timescales for each milestone.
Members raised that the WG needs to consider how the published framework is publicised to ensure it is accessible and that people are aware of their rights and the challenges they can bring if their accommodation does not meet the standards framework.
Members agreed that SG will prepare draft materials to share with the working group for comment and review. When materials are agreed and signed off, the SG officials will circulate these to wider stakeholders for consideration.
Members also agreed that the WG should meet monthly.
Any other business and close
JH thanked everyone for their attendance and their contribution to the working group.
The next meeting is scheduled for 28 October 2021 (10:30 to 12:30).
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