- 26 Jan 2021
Attendees and apologies
Laura Caven, COSLA (Chair)
Tony Cain, ALACHO
Stephen Clark, Stirling Council
David Goldie, Highland Council
Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
David Simpson, Dundee City Council
Clare Thomas – COSLA – guest for item 2
Mike Callaghan – COSLA – guest for item 3
Gemma Fraser, Community Justice Scotland – guest for item 3
Liz Cooper, SPS – guest for item 3
Merlin Kemp, SG – guest for item 5
Caroline Dicks, SG
Naeem Bhatti, SG
Mandy Brown, SG (Secretariat)
Iona Macphail, Argyll & Bute Council
Clare Mailer, Perth and Kinross Council
Ashley Campbell, CIH
Eloise Nutbrown, COSLA
AnnMarie Carr, West Lothian Council
Lorraine Smith, HSC Fife
Michael Cameron, SHR
Douglas Whyte, Argyll and Bute
Phil Daws, East Renfrewshire Council
Angela Keith, SOLACE
John Mills, ALACHO
Connie Smith, SG
Marion Gibbs, SG
Items and actions
1. Welcome and approval of previous minutes
COSLA opened the meeting and welcomed participants. The note from the previous meeting was agreed.
2. Delayed Discharge and Complex Care
COSLA, along with SG, formed two short life working groups in April.
One group focused on best practice and the other group on revenue funding and capital element.
Proposal to develop a national register which provides accurate information on people who experience delayed discharge.
They have also discussed the change fund and allocation of funding and how to utilise investment so people are supported to return to their communities.
A paper for COSLA Leaders discussed the commissioning for complex care. This paper will be shared with the LAHRG.
This work links to the independent review of adult social care.
The Leaders agreed that further engagement with stakeholders on housing was required.
COSLA and Scottish Government plan to set up a programme delivery board to take this work forward and are keen to engage and link up with others working in this area.
PHS advised they have been working with Healthcare Improvement Scotland to identify examples of good practice so may be helpful to discuss further.
Suggestion was made that perhaps GWSF and SFHA might be able to contribute and also the SG Affordable Housing Investment team.
It was acknowledged that the strategic role rests with local authorities and IJBs therefore there may be a conflict of interest in terms of commissioning processes in including housing providers in these discussions at this stage.
Action: Circulate COSLA Leaders paper to the group
3. Recovery of the Justice System
Update from Scottish Prison Service (SPS):
- SPS provided an update on flexible release. A letter was being issued to partners on 1 December to remind them that they can request control of flexible release.
- This can be requested for individuals they are supporting where the date of release possess difficulties in terms of ensuring availability of wrap around support in the community.
- Release date can be brought forward by up to 2 days to benefit a person’s reintegration, for example if due to be released over public holidays. The final decision however is made by the Public Protection Unit.
- SPS have been working on optimising the use of home detention curfew. They have created a tracker that records the reason why people have not applied for this which has mainly been due to lack of accommodation on release.
- Have met with SG colleagues to discuss the housing pathway and the next step is to discuss with COSLA and ALACHO.
- SPS confirmed that the SHORE standards are being revised to reflect changes to polices and good practice. This will include standards on arrest and remand to ensure there is a consistent national approach across Scotland. SPS will also consult with partners.
Update from Community Justice Scotland (CJS):
- CJS advised the Justice system is slowly restarting across all areas.
- Currently have 30,000 summary court trials outstanding which are likely to generate community justice sentencing alongside detention in prison.
- CJS have been focusing on how to prevent people entering the system where possible and appropriate. Also trying to avoid over use of fines at this time.
- CJS have also been working on the SHORE Standards.
- They have also worked to address issues with outstanding warrants and people being rearrested on release.
- Key areas relating to housing is the transition from custody back into the community and how best to support people with an existing community order from ending back in prison.
- Housing services plays a significant role in preventing further offending and helps to ensure they complete the community order.
Update from COSLA:
- COSLA have been working with LA housing services and prison service on the challenges ahead and meeting on 9 December to discuss further.
Members can get in touch with SPS, CJS or COSLA if have any further questions/queries.
- Observation made that the guidance for work in other people’s homes provides information on maintenance within homes and that the moving homes guidance sets out that housing services are essential which can include work on tenancy sustainment or wider support subject to usual safeguards.
- Would have been useful to have trade unions involved and to work jointly with COSLA on the guidance in future.
- Members commented that repair work is going ahead in line with the tiers and guidance.
- LAs have been keeping in contact with tenants regarding any rent issues/arrears, etc by video call and in exception face-to-face where necessary.
5. Financial support for tenants
Papers circulated to group on the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund.
Paper on Discretionary Housing Payments sets out next steps including resuming stakeholder meetings.
Please contact SG DHP team if would like to attend the stakeholder meetings.
October shows the number of homeless applications has remained stable this month (+5).
There has been a small drop in the number of households in temporary accommodation (-108) but 14,121 households remain in temporary accommodation at the end of October.
Lettings activity increased very slightly, with 40% made to homeless households.
Arrears figures for local authorities have risen to their highest level since April after a reduction last month.
- Important to get voids back into use.
- Observation made that rent arrears for LAs is much higher than RSLs.
- Housing Options Scotland (one of the SG Strategic partners) have highlighted to SG that allocations and letting activity not taking place within some Housing Associations – either not getting through when try to call or they say are unable to do this with the current restrictions. However the guidance makes clear can continue, with appropriate safeguards in place.
7. VOIDS processing
Standing item to consider the challenges and learning at a local and national level and consider any national actions to be taken.
Dundee – temporary accommodation was rising but seems to have levelled off a bit. Few more people in B&B.
Highland – big increase in temporary accommodation and concerns about breaches in UAO. Converting any voids into furnished units which has increased number of people in temporary accommodation in own stock
Stirling – high level in temporary accommodation, with high use of B&Bs and hotels. Also, high level of voids. Seen a number of drug related deaths and currently looking at how to provide more support as individuals more isolated and vulnerable during the current pandemic. PHS advised SG are currently looking at how drug and alcohol services can recover from the pandemic so might be useful to link up. PHS will contact SG and share details with Stirling Council.
8. Action Log
- ALACHO RAG survey - to discuss the timescales, possibly towards the end of week
- AHSP letter update - currently waiting on a response to the letter
- Ending Homelessness Together action plan – will be meeting to discuss
- Fuel poverty report – SG report to be circulated
- NRPF comments – Have received comments
- UAO Guidance – Meeting on Friday
- Consultations – Fair Rent Bill and Local Connection – Local connection consultation is now closed
- IT update - ongoing
9. Update from Resilience Group Chairs meeting 25 Nov 2020
SAL and Propertymark will be leaving the PRS group after Christmas.
Action: Circulate note from Resilience Group Chairs meeting once approved
Action: Discuss future/structure of the groups at next meeting
10. AOB – General Updates/Emerging Issues
Energy Efficiency Standards – there was suggestion of exemption list.
Action: COSLA will check whether exemption list.
- Date of next meeting
- The next meeting is 15 December 2020 from 10:30 am until noon.