Housing and Social Security Stakeholder Group minutes: July 2016

Minutes, agenda and papers of the meeting of the Housing and Social Security Stakeholder Group held on 26 July 2016.

Attendees and apologies


  • James Battye – Shelter Scotland
  • Elaine Byrne – SHN
  • Gillian Evans – SLGP (GCC)
  • Ann Marie Devlin –NG Homes
  • Rob Gowans – CAS
  • Jeremy Hewer – SFHA
  • Campbell Kinloch – Sanctuary Housing Association
  • Michael McClements – COSLA
  • Heather McCluskey – HSEU
  • Rhona McGrath – Renfrewshire Council
  • Ali Lord – CPAG
  • Jules Oldham – Homeless Action Scotland
  • Beth Reid – CRISIS
  • Rita Smart – Regional Tenant Organisation Network
  • Liam Spence – Wheatley Group
  • Layla Theiner – Disability Agenda Scotland
  • Susanne Webster – CIH

Scottish Government

  • Owen Griffiths (Chair) – Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Criddle – Scottish Government
  • Olive Hill – Scottish Government
  • Marion Gibbs – Scottish Government
  • Ann Marie Stanley – Scottish Government
  • Julie Guy – Scottish Government
  • Josie Knowles – Scottish Government
  • Kim Reimann – Scottish Government

Items and actions

Owen Griffiths welcomed everyone to the meeting and the minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.

He stated that the feedback on support for housing costs for young people from the previous meeting had been helpful, but that there had been no further update on the UK Government’s plans for the 18-21 policy and exemptions.

Update on New Powers

  1. Olive advised that Social Security is now becoming a Directorate within the Scottish Government and shared the recent updates to the plans for Universal Credit roll-out. Scottish Government and COSLA are considering the impacts of this announcement and will be seeking further clarity from the DWP. The Ministerial statement, including the revised dates for roll-out can be found online: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-20/HCWS96/

  2. She confirmed that work is on-going with DWP around the implementation of priority admin flexibilities, and that there will be questions in the consultation around the options of split payments and extending payment of the housing element direct to private landlords.

  3. Stephanie provided a further update on the progress of the UC housing cost flexibility and Discretionary Housing Payments. Use of the UC flexibility to abolish the bedroom tax for those on the UC full service continues to be a work in progress with the DWP.

  4. A commencement date for the devolution of DHPs through the Scotland Act 2016 has been set for 1 April 2017, from this date the Scottish Government will assume responsibility for funding all DHPs, as well as administration, guidance etc. There are no plans to substantially change the operation of DHPs for 17/18, and the Scottish Government will be focused on a smooth transition. Members highlighted the range of pressures on DHP funds, including forthcoming pressures due to the change in the UK Government’s benefit cap. Members also highlighted the challenges posed by Universal Credit in the administration of DHPs, as information about claimants situation is less readily available than is currently the case for housing benefit.

Update on Mitigation Activity

  1. Elaine Byrne provided an update on the 2016/17 mitigation activity and welfare reform forums so far. Further details, including slides from the forums are available through the website: http://www.scotlandshousingnetwork.org/welfare-reform/. Anyone interested in attending or providing an update at the sessions should contact Elaine or Tony Donohoe info@tonyconsulting.co.uk.

  2. Elaine gave an overview of areas which had been discussed at the forums, including issues around the roll-out of Universal Credit and feedback on the UC full service system. She highlighted the increased time and resource which was now being spent to support people moving onto UC.

  3. The group expressed concerns about problems people had experienced with Universal Credit and noted inconsistencies across the service people were receiving.

Temporary and Supported Accommodation

  1. Marion advised that she is working with ALACHO to consider the long-term model for Temporary Accommodation, including the cost and role of TA. She also confirmed that work is being done to look at plans for how the localised management fee will be distributed across Scotland from April 2017.

  2. The UK Government announcement around the Supported Accommodation review is now expected to be made in the early Autumn. The group remains concerned about the impact of the LHA cap on SA, as well as the impact of the Shared Accommodation Rate on under 35s who may find it difficult to move from refuge or Temporary Accommodation into suitable long-term housing. The SFHA is gathering examples from housing associations about the expected impact of the cap on their organisation.

Social Security Consultation

  1. Stephanie confirmed that the consultation on the new social security powers would be launched on 29 July and that members were encouraged to respond and seek their stakeholders’ views. The consultation is now available online at: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/social-security/social-security-in-scotland

  2. There will be a programme of activity over the summer and support packs are available to help organisations hold their own events on the consultation. She emphasised that anyone responding should pick out the sections relevant to them and that there was no expectation for people to answer every question.

  3. In relation to housing, the Scottish Government is seeking views on the UC admin flexibilities, powers to vary the housing element of UC and Discretionary Housing Payments.

  4. Details about the upcoming events and updates on the consultation will be included in the Social Security weekly newsletter, which is sent out every Friday. To sign up for the newsletter, go to: http://register.scotland.gov.uk/Subscribe/Step1 and select the 'Social Security Powers' option which is second from the bottom of the page.

Role and Remit of the Group

  1. Owen introduced the draft Role and Remit for the successor to this group, highlighting the shift in Scottish Government activity from responding to UK welfare reform and taking responsibility for important parts of the Social Security landscape and the ambition that the group become more active in helping to develop and implement policy.

  2. He asked for any detailed comments on the Role and Remit document and views on the future work plan for the group to be sent via email.

Next meeting

  1. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday 29 November 2016 in Conference Room 7 and 8, Victoria Quay at 1.30pm.
Housing and Social Security Group - Role and Remit paper.pdf
Welfare Reform Summary Report May-June 2016.pdf


Email: owen.griffiths@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Housing and Social Security Collaborative
Scottish Government
Housing, Regeneration and Welfare
Better Homes
Victoria Quay

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