- 18 Nov 2020
Attendees and apologies
Laura Caven, COSLA (Chair)
Ashley Campbell, CIH
David Goldie, Highland Council
Mark McAllister, COSLA
June Deans, Glasgow City Council
Merlin Kemp, SG
Diane Lambie, SG
Marion Gibbs, SG
Mandy Brown, SG (Secretariat)
Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
Iona Macphail, Argyll & Bute Council
John Mills, ALACHO
Tony Cain, ALACHO
David Simpson, Dundee City Council
Stephen Clark, Stirling Council
Clare Mailer, Perth and Kinross Council
Eloise Nutbrown, COSLA
AnnMarie Carr, West Lothian Council
Janet Stitt, Inverclyde Council
Phil Daws, East Renfrewshire Council
Lorraine Smith, HSC Fife
Michael Cameron, SHR
Angela Keith (SOLACE)
Douglas Whyte (Argyll and Bute)
Connie Smith, SG
Angela O’Brien, SG
Catriona MacKean, SG
Caroline Dicks, SG
Naeem Bhatti, SG
Items and actions
1. Welcome and approval of previous minutes
COSLA welcomed everyone to the meeting. The notes from the previous meeting were agreed.
2. Update from Resilience Group chairs meeting
Discussion at meeting included: Tenant Hardship Loan Fund, SG joint communication with COSLA on tradespeople, DHP, Housing to 2040, homelessness allocations and Internal Market Bill. Review of adult social care and housing was also discussed.
CIH advised they are commissioning a short piece of work to look at the implications of the Internal Market Bill.
SG advised joint letter being issued from Minister and Councillor to LA Housing and RSLs on allocations to homelessness. Minister is also sending a separate letter to RSLs in Glasgow.
Action: COSLA to circulate the review of adult social care information
3. Discretionary Housing Payments
The PRS Resilience Group have raised issues concerning Discretionary Housing Payments. Paper from CAS and Shelter Scotland circulated to group, along with discussion paper from SG.
SG advised two issues to consider in relation to the DHP process: the immediate response due to Covid and the longer term issues to consider.
SG queried how the extra money was working? Do they expect to run out of money before end of year?
Glasgow City Council advised they are ahead of the equivalent period last year in relation to committed spend. They are monitoring other funds and using flexibility to meet demands in particular areas. Proactive in using DWP data to promote DHPs. Uptake of DHP appears to have increased in last couple of weeks since moved to online application form. This may be due to moving online or because end of furlough approaching.
SG asked about increasing awareness and whether any good practice to share?
GCC advised improved online process. GCC have been monitoring take up demand. They have been helping tenants to sustain tenancies. Decision makers will consider the prospect of change, and award for a longer period depending on the circumstances
CIH commented that increased awareness leads to increased demand so need enough money in DHP pot to meet demand.
SG advised hard to anticipate next year’s demand especially with the economic situation. Would be useful to have conversations with LAs regarding appropriate levels of funding. SG and COSLA will have a discussion on DHPs and the LA admin burden.
Highland Council advised there is need for wider DHP review, as the initial purpose that DHP was established for has now changed and it is now being seen as a vehicle to meet for mainstream demand and funding gaps.
SG has housing and social security group, not met recently but keen to set back up, and discuss guidance. Once have feedback would be useful to have another meeting with this stakeholder group.
What can SG do to support application process, streamline and good practices?
It would be useful to have a more detailed conversation around the challenges, which include complexity of Universal Credit, data sharing issues and administrative issues. The group noted awareness that legislative change was expected, and that SG guidance will be revised, so local guidance and policy will also be revised in line with this.
CIH and Highland Council agreed that UC data sharing is an issue. If all UK LAs are facing this, would this not be a stronger case to pose to DWP? SG advised had recent conversations with DWP and Northern Ireland. SG happy to facilitate conversations with DWP.
In relation to Covid response, GCC advised most demand so far was securing tenancies when moving particularly due to self-isolation and physical distancing. GCC helped to sustain tenancies using one off payments. The group noted issues in how the housing element is treated in UC. Could the UC award design be made in any other way?
CIH concerned that the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund may not be the best option. Would access to Scottish Welfare Fund to claim short term grants be an option? This might be a short term solution for those who can’t access DHP. SG will discuss with colleagues from the welfare refund team.
Action: Members to provide any written feedback on the papers circulated
4. Inclusion Health Principles and Practice
This paper intends to provide a starting point for partners working in the public and voluntary sectors across Scotland in taking a human rights-based approach to planning responses to COVID-19, recovery and renewal, mitigating the impact on the most marginalised and excluded in our communities.
COSLA advised important to consider the role of data and intelligence and how it can be used to support the work of colleagues in the housing sector.
Suggestion was made that colleague from PHS could give a presentation as useful to see their case study and how they apply data. Could have an online session with interested parties and then feedback to the group.
Action: COSLA will recirculate the paper for members to send any comments to PHS.
Action: COSLA will contact PHS to see about arranging online presentation with interested parties and then feedback to the group.
5. VOIDS processing
SG advised that the information from the Housing Options Hub indicates that on a whole voids are progressing.
6. Action Log
- Ending Homelessness Together action plan published 8 October
- Hub updates to be shared – ongoing: sent to the Minister today and will share with group once available
- Unsuitable Accommodation Orders – ongoing: to confirm guidance publication date
- Recovery of the justice system – add as future item on the agenda for SG to provide an update
- Joint SG/COSLA communication regarding tradespeople being able to continue to work in homes to be issued – Letter in progress
- Learning from local lockdowns – ALACHO paper on local lockdowns
- NRPF – update will be provided at future meeting
Action: SG provide update on recovery of the justice system.
7. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will 3 November 2020 from 10:30 am until noon.