- 23 Mar 2021
Attendees and apologies
- Laura Caven, COSLA (Chair)
- Marion Gibbs, SG
- Mandy Brown, SG (Secretariat)
- Tony Cain, ALACHO
- Stephen Clark, Stirling Council
- Ashley Campbell, CIH
- David Goldie, Highland Council
- Douglas Whyte Argyll and Bute (until 11:30am)
- John Mills, ALACHO and Fife Council
- Phil Daws, East Renfrewshire Council (until 11am)
- Callum Chomczuk, CIH Scotland (Item 2)
- Jo Ozga, Scottish Women’s Aid (Item 2)
- Katie Brown, COSLA (Item 2)
- Ruth Whatling, SG (Item 2)
- David Simpson, Dundee City Council
- Clare Mailer, Perth and Kinross Council
- Angela Keith SOLACE
- Michael Cameron, SHR
- Angela O’Brien, SG
- Iona Macphail, Argyll & Bute Council
- Elaine Ritchie, Perth and Kinross Council (Sub)
- Eloise Nutbrown, COSLA
- AnnMarie Carr, West Lothian Council
- Caroline Dicks, SG
- Lorraine Smith, HSC Fife
- Naeem Bhatti, SG
- Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
Items and actions
1. Welcome and approval of previous minutes
COSLA opened the meeting and welcomed participants. Amendment to previous note: page 4, Unsuitable Accommodation Order section should just read Shelter Scotland.
2. Improving housing outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse
- The SG Working group was set up in August 2019 to consider how Scotland could improve housing outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.
- The first phase of the groups work focuses on social landlords, while the second phase will focus on private housing.
- This report, which was published in December 2020, focuses on phase one, and sets out the analysis and recommendations of the working group.
- It has been proposed that an implementation group is set up to take forward these recommendations.
- Members are supportive of this report and the recommendations.
- Query was raised as to how to encourage more landlords to adopt good practice policies regarding domestic abuse?
- It was noted that a number of LAs do not have a domestic abuse policy. ALACHO and COSLA are meeting on 20 January to discuss this issue.
- COSLA advised they have been working on issues relating to commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). Although the DA report didn’t look specifically at CSE, if progress on those recommendations then this could lead to further changes in terms of CSE by taking a human rights approach and embedding this within the homelessness system.
3. Housing resilience issues arising from change to restrictions
- ALACHO RAG survey and service pressures survey was circulated to the group.
- The RAG survey suggests that some councils continue to face significant challenges whilst others have seen only limited movement in their situation. Some councils are still struggling to get voids back into use.
- The ALACHO service pressures survey indicates that councils are reviewing service provision and in particular risk assessments due to the new lockdown rules and the new variant of the virus. Half of those surveyed felt that further guidance was required, while the other half felt there was already sufficient guidance in place.
- COSLA attended the Workforce Issues group which was an opportunity to raise any issues at a national level.
- Councils have processes in place to minimise contact with tenants in terms of sign-ups for tenancy agreements. However some concerns have been raised by LA legal officers regarding the long term implications.
- The Empty Homes conference is next week. COSLA will circulate the link if anyone still wants to sign up.
Action: SG to provide update re digital sign-ups for tenancy agreements
Action: COSLA to circulate link to the Empty Homes conference
4. Voids processing:
Fife Council: have been redirecting workers to carry out work on void properties to reduce the 340 properties that are currently unoccupied.
Stirling Council: only doing emergency repairs and gas safety checks, currently have more people working on voids. Council has been buying a lot of second hand properties at the moment which is increasing the number of voids.
ALACHO commented that have been receiving enquiries from individuals regarding working on voids. It is important that workers are confident that safe working methods are in place.
5. Ban on Eviction Enforcement
- The ban on the enforcement of eviction orders has been extended until at least 31 March, in line with other coronavirus regulations.
- COSLA have been in contact with SG and will need to work together on solutions, including on the financial implications, and what happens at the end of this period.
- What support is available directly to landlords for any additional costs?
- Will additional costs be borne by tenants, such as through rent increases?
- The economic and financial implications will last longer for tenants, regardless of whether or not this ban is extended.
- Update on the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund was circulated to members before the meeting. A number of applications have been rejected due to affordability. What are the next steps available to them? Additionally, applications from local authority tenants are prompting advice and support from the relevant local authority. What support is available for other tenants?
- Fife Council have been providing direct rent support for tenants who are struggling to pay their rent.
Action: SG THLF team to attend future meeting and update the group
6. EU Exit
- CIH advised they are currently updating their Housing Rights website. CIH have commissioned research into the Internal Market Bill and will share with group once published.
- Important that sector gets up to speed on the procurement requirements, particularly with the new supply programme.
- COSLA are gathering evidence from councils regarding any issues. Will update the group at a future meeting.
Action: CIH to circulate, once available, their research paper into the Internal Market Bill
Action: COSLA to update group on the evidence they gather from the councils
7. Action Log
ALACHO RAG survey: RAG survey and service pressures survey circulated to the group from January 2021
Restarting the New Supply programme: COSLA having conversation with SG on 20 January
NRPF: Anti-destitution Strategy due to publish in early February
Gypsy Traveller Support: would encourage councils to access the funding before the end of March
Test and Protect: close action
Fair Rent Bill Consultation: closed
Local Connection Consultation: work on this is currently paused
Climate Change Plan: still ongoing
8. Update from Resilience Group Chairs meeting
- The group was updated on the last Chairs meeting with the Minister, which was in December, and mainly focussed on the ban on evictions over the Christmas period.
9. Date of next meeting
- The next meeting will be held in three weeks and the frequency of these meetings will be reviewed then.
Action: Group to review frequency of the LAHRG meetings.