Publication - Minutes

Local Authority Housing Resilience Group minutes: 25 August 2020

Published: 20 Oct 2020
Date of meeting: 25 Aug 2020

Minutes of the 25 August meeting of the Local Authority Housing Resilience Group

Published:
20 Oct 2020
Local Authority Housing Resilience Group minutes: 25 August 2020

Attendees and apologies

Participants

  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • John Mills, ALACHO/Fife Council
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Katey Tabner, COSLA
  • Naeem Bhatti, SG
  • Catriona MacKean, SG
  • Angela O’Brien, SG
  • Margaret Irving, SG
  • Marion Gibbs, SG
  • Katrina Reid, PHS
  • Derek McGowan, Aberdeen City Council
  • David Simpson, Dundee City Council
  • Stephen Clark, Stirling Council,
  • Clare Mailer, Perth and Kinross Council
  • Connie Smith, SG

Apologies

  • Ashley Campbell, CIH
  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • Eloise Nutbrown, COSLA
  • Peter Barry, SOLACE
  • David Goldie, Highland Council
  • Ann Marie Carr, West Lothian Council
  • Janet Stitt, Inverclyde Council
  • Phil Daws, East Renfrewshire Council
  • Iona Macphail, Argyll & Bute Council
  • Michael Cameron, SHR
  • Caroline Dicks, SG
  • Marion Gibbs, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome to members and updates to previous minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.

2. Updates

Scottish Government Update: Grenfell Tower Inquiry

SG colleagues delivered a presentation outlining the SG response to the Grenfell Tower fire. This referred to the review of the fire safely regime in Scotland and actions delivered to strengthen fire safety and the differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK. The purpose of the presentation was to gather views from as many people as possible to the survey which has a closing date of 4 September.  

The following points were made during discussion:

  • The SG team were happy for the survey to be shared via the contacts on this group and to be shared wider to reach those who have responsibility or interest.
  • The stay put guidance is remaining. However, the decision is up to those responsible for individual buildings. The default position will depend on which area you live.
  • It is not feasible to develop individual action plans for those in general needs housing even if they are vulnerable. Is there follow up information available to vulnerable people? Anyone can request a fire safety visit plus there is specialised guidance available to care workers.
  • Many multi story properties are multi tenure. However there is a problem with vulnerable households in private lets. Multi tenure buildings usually have a concierge who will know which residents are vulnerable and can pass this information to Fire and Rescue if necessary. However, it is not possible to know the location of all vulnerable people.
  • Members were encouraged to respond to survey and circulate to colleagues who have an interest.

SG Housing Hubs Update

  • There was a rapid rehousing sub group meeting last week. This was a productive meeting and all agreed it was good to have fortnightly meetings with hubs to get feedback but also to have an opportunity to test HARSAG 2 recommendations.
  • The issue of domestic abuse had been tested with LAs and this had been really helpful.
  • Last week the groups tested financial support areas covering what people actually needed in practice. Feedback on the use of UC/housing benefit costs and SWF was patchy across Scotland. Moving from temporary accommodation into permanent accommodation often needs the provision of furniture so SWF important. Feedback suggests that some LAs have a good system to provide help but others are very slow and this is a barrier. It would be good to share best practice to improve this process.
  • Hubs are content to continue the current frequency of meetings and welcome the opportunity to share information and practice.
  • 30 of the 32 LAs have submitted completed templates on activity and spend. SG have offered to provide feedback to the LA if they wish to have a further discussion.
  • There was a recent meeting between the Housing Minister and the housing convenors’ and the Community Wellbeing board. The meeting went well and there was broad support for the HARSAG 2 recommendations.  

Discussion Local Resilience Scenario Planning

  • The group had a discussion about the impact of the recent local lockdown in Aberdeen and the issues raised following the self-isolation of a large number of staff at a food factory. The group were concerned about the impact on allocations and void processing given the progress that had been made so far.  
  • The local resilience partnership group had a conversation about how to link up to corporate resilience planning. This would be taken forward between COSLA and ALACHO and would use this group to test ideas. The group would be happy to learn what processes are in place from the Councils represented on this group.
  • There was no particular impact in Aberdeen at the moment. They continue to have issues with voids and allocations and recent local lockdown will not have helped. There is an issue getting tradespeople into buildings. There is a spike in temporary accommodation but this is also a national issue. UC applications have risen significantly. Will keep the group updated as the situations develops.
  • During the Minister’s meeting it was noted that some tenants are reticent about having people on site and while it is anticipated that this will improve over time, local lockdown will have an impact. However, it was acknowledged that each local authority is different.
  • Local lockdown will raise issues about shielded group and again identifying those who need help to access food, medication or other services.
  • There will also be a link to employability as there will be people who have lost their jobs and are now in the vulnerable category which has not happened before.
  • There was a recent Covid outbreak at a factory in Perth and Kinross. This was a big challenge as there were 1000 employees and over 17 languages spoken. This raised issues over communication as well as financial and housing issues as some were living in HMOs. There is no specific guidance on HMOs. New issues of homelessness, test and protect, crisis grants etc. to enable people to isolate within their homes. There is also the issue of NRPF who arrived in the area to work at the factory.
  • Group agreed to keep this as a standing agenda item. The chair will pass on any information that arises in the intervening period.

Action – SG and COSLA to have a discussion offline

​​​​​​​Standing item VOIDS processing

  • At last meeting voids were picking up and this is evidenced in the SHR return.
  • Dundee has a lot of people in temporary accommodation and are increasing activity on this. They have 300 network flats. There is a challenge from elected members about people who were already on the waiting list.
  • Perth and Kinross there were no real problems and performance is continuing to improve. Currently concentrating on homeless households.
  • Homelessness allocations were discussed at the Chairs meeting last week. Will rely on local discretion regarding numbers. There may be national minimum but will see how the situation progresses.
  • Aberdeen City are focussing on homelessness. There has been an increase in domestic breakdowns. They are having a problem with the availability of trades as most go to work for the oil industry as it is better paid.  Voids are very high and have doubled over the period. The main issue is getting properties repaired. They are doing virtual viewings and getting staff back in making sure the processes are as safer as they can be.
  • ALACHO concerns include the termination of tenancies which have been slow. In Fife would expect 50 a week but this has gone down. On the percentage of allocations, the housing access plan is working to 70/30 split homeless v transfers. Aim is to get RSL and LA voids maximised through transfers.

​​​​​​​Update SHR Data Return

The chair said that we will keep circulating the spreadsheet as it is useful to have this. Seeing figures rising and coming close to existing levels. Temporary accommodation is continuing to rise but this is slowing down. Members were asked to flag any issues which could be raised at the chairs meeting with the minister.

Figures are improving but still very difficult position. Voids are still at 75% of normal levels. Some LA saying 70/80% going to homeless but the average is about 50%. A significant number of voids are being turned into temporary accommodation. Another RAG survey is out just now and the results can be shared at the next meeting.

3. Action Log – review current work for fortnight ahead, identify actions and emerging areas

  • HARSAG – discussed earlier in the meeting.
  • RAG survey is out at the moment and will be available by the end of the week and an update will be provided at the next meeting.
  • PHS data – discussion has taken place and is moving forward. Partnership is developing especially relating to action plan. A meeting is scheduled for Monday.
  • Hub updates – updated earlier in the meeting.
  • Recovery planning  - This is underway
  • Restarting services - ALACHO is taking this forward. Acknowledge that there is a backlog and local lockdowns may impact on this.
  • UAO – An SSI has been laid proposing an extension to current deadline, moving it to 31 January 2021. Add exemption that housing stock at local level is impacted by COVID. Draft guidance date is 16 Sept. Action – The chair will send on guidance.

4. AOB – General Updates/Emerging Issues

No other updates