- 20 Oct 2020
Attendees and apologies
- Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
- Cllr Elena Whitham – COSLA
- Laura Cavan, COSLA
- Sally Thomas - SFHA
- Nina Ballantyne - CAB
- Catriona MacKean - SG
- Naeem Bhatti – SG
- Yvonne Gavan – SG
- Margaret Irving – SG
- John Blackwood - SAL
- Angela O’Brien - SG
Items and actions
1. Welcome / Introductions / Apologies
The Minister welcomed everyone to the meeting.
2. Note of previous meeting / actions
The note of the previous meeting was agreed.
3. Updates from Resilience Groups
Social Housing Resilience Group
Group discussed the following:
- Presentation from Berwickshire and Govan housing associations on Supporting Communities Fund. Highlighted the ability to mobilise quickly and get services to those that need them. Recognised the importance of partnership working and effective sharing of data. Aim is to continue in the longer term and sustain progress to date.
- SHRG considering the possibility of putting out a statement with input from SG/COSLA on process/work continuing following the FM’s announcement on Covid-19.
- HARSAG recommendation on shared ambition to have 80-90% allocations to homeless households and potential conflict arising from this.
- Internal Market Bill - SFHA have been discussing with Welsh counterparts.
- Future of the group as resilience covers Brexit and other issues affecting the housing sector.
Local Authority Housing Resilience Group
Group discussed the following:
- Shared ambition about 80-90% of allocations to homeless households.
- Voids processing is increasing but not as quickly as hoped.
- Following the FM’s announcement joint communications is essential to make sure people are aware that trades can continue to work on peoples homes.
- Tenant hardship loan fund
- Internal Markets Bill
- New terms of reference, publication of the meeting notes and continuing with fortnightly meetings.
- COSLA Community and Wellbeing Board met and discussed regulating short term lets, tenant hardship loans, ending homelessness together action plan.
- Recovery of the justice system.
PRS Resilience Group
The group discussed the following:
- Terms of reference and future of the group. Looking for copies of terms of reference from the other resilience groups.
- Concerns about cases now entering the tribunal service.
- Loan fund which will be discussed in more detail at the next meeting. Looking at possibly mirroring student loan arrangements. Important that the loan fund is last resort and ensure tenant has sought advice and other sources of financial help.
The Minister noted the following:
- In light of FM announcement there is a need for the resilience groups to continue. Agree that a joint statement about trades continuing to work in people’s homes is necessary and will get something out from SG Comms today. COSLA noted they were speaking to their Employers Team on messaging as well.
- Officials to talk to COSLA and others about a joint approach to continuing trades which should also involve the construction industry coronavirus group.
- HARSAG – Aware that some people are unhappy about 80-90% allocations to homeless household but this is an aspiration which is different to a target. There needs to be compromise to reach a figure which suits each area.
- Tenant hardship loan fund – Had hoped to use the Welsh model as an example but Scotland is further ahead on implementation. The fund is a last resort scenario, tenants should be signposted to UC DHP etc. first. Aware that this is not just housing and there may be other reasons why they are struggling financially. SG will continues to talk to the UK government. SG has put more money into DHPs and will continue to look at these budgets.
- Internal Markets Bill –Scottish building standards are better than many others. There are issues which are different in Scotland particularly climate and we have to take account of this as well as safety issues. SG are still analysing all of this and we are happy to share views and analysis as we move forward and expects building standards colleagues to help with this. Grateful for any input from the groups on this as there is a huge amount of expertise in the sector. Our building standards team is very small so any help is welcome.
- Brexit is still an issue although resources have been diverted to deal with Covid. Work has been carried out previously on supply chains and there has been a move to using more Scottish suppliers. But need to look at more of this, happy for input from outside, and share our analysis. Again there is value in these groups continuing.
- Note that 92,000 cases have been dealt with CAB and the Minister would like to pass on his thanks to CAB colleagues.
Further discussion with the group covered the following:
- PRS group are looking at changes to the landlord fund. Officials confirmed that the following changes are being made to the landlord loan fund and are expected to go live next week (once the loan administrator has made the necessary admin changes): Landlords will be able to borrow for lost rent for up to 3 properties (currently only 1) Repayment period extended from 12 months to 24 months.
- Members were interested in how housing groups could contribute to the national care review.
- The Minister confirmed that there will be consultation event and asked officials to talk to health counterpart to get idea of timetables. He confirmed that there is recognition that housing need to be fully involved in discussions.
- The Minister was asked if it would it be helpful to have a round table discussion with RSLs to find out what barriers there are to the HARSAG aspiration of 80-90% homes allocated to homeless households.
- Minister said he was happy to talk to RSL’s. Would prefer cooperation rather than having to regulate.
- The Minister noted that Glasgow City Council is going to write to RSLs as many HA reticent about letting 2 bed properties to single people because of the bedroom tax. This will allow RSL to let the properties with guarantee for income.
- This was helpful and members were keen to hear from COSLA before speaking to RSL’s about a round table discussion.
4. Housing System Policy Circle Update
Sally Thomas, joint chair of the HSPC, provided an update.
SHRB met on 10 September and had a presentation from the housing circle and community regeneration circle. The housing circle is ahead of that circle and the other circles. The housing circle has been making the most of the information on Housing to 2040 and information generated by housing sector.
The next meeting of the group takes place on 24 September and will be discussing the next phase of work to feed into Cabinet level Housing to 2040 discussions, lived experience, testing recommendations against EQIA and positioning work in the broader context of social renewal.
COSLA noted that it would be helpful to have the Housing to 2040 information to bring to the Community and Wellbeing Board on 6 November as it will be a while before next board. Sally noted this and said that it would be helpful to discuss further to plan for that.
CAS are in the financial security circle and HSPC. The HSPC has used time in between meetings to progress work. Good to have had a lot of housing work already ongoing.
Housing to 2040 document is being prepared to take account of the work of HSPC and other circles.
5. Any Other Business
Members were keen to input into energy efficiency and standards and how this impacts on short term lets.
The Minister confirmed that Scotland has better building standards from the safety aspect but also climate aspect as we do have a different climate. Need more discussion on this as we continue to work on the detail of the Internal Market Bill.
He noted that last week SG invested £16 million to improve energy efficiency in Fuel-poor households.
Members agreed the value of these meetings to discuss issues in a supportive and collaborative space.
The next meeting will in two weeks.