- 18 Nov 2020
Attendees and apologies
Anil Gupta, COSLA (Chair)
Tony Cain, ALACHO
Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
Ashley Campbell, CIH
Eloise Nutbrown, COSLA
David Goldie, Highland Council
John Blackwood, SAL (Guest)
Caroline Dicks, SG
Naeem Bhatti, SG
Marion Gibbs, SG
Angela O’Brien, SG
Mandy Brown, SG (Secretariat)
Laura Caven (COSLA)
Angela Keith (SOLACE)
Iona Macphail, Argyll & Bute Council
John Mills, ALACHO
David Simpson, Dundee City Council
Stephen Clark, Stirling Council
Clare Mailer, Perth and Kinross Council
Connie Smith, SG
AnnMarie Carr, West Lothian Council
Janet Stitt, Inverclyde Council
Phil Daws, East Renfrewshire Council
Lorraine Smith, HSC Fife
Michael Cameron, SHR
Catriona MacKean, SG
Items and actions
1. Welcome and approval of previous minutes
COSLA welcomed everyone to the meeting. Angela Keith sent her apologies. She will attend future meetings representing SOLACE, replacing Peter Barry. The notes from the previous meeting were agreed.
2. Update from Resilience Group chairs meeting
Social media announcement was made regarding tradespeople being able to continue to carry out work.
The meeting discussed the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund. A number of questions and concerns were raised by the resilience group chairs which will be fed back to the team working on the development of the fund.
Frequency of the resilience group meetings was discussed. It was agreed would continue to meet fortnightly due to the ongoing Covid issues.
3. Update from PRS
John Blackwood from Scottish Association of Landlords gave an update on the PRS:
- Members have been supporting landlords to engage as early as possible with tenants with rent concerns.
- Statistics on calls to advice lines currently show a 3% decrease in calls about rent.
- During the pandemic there had been a significant increase in calls about anti-social behaviour.
- Lots of PRS tenants have been moving and some landlords nervous about letting properties out to new, unknown tenants, particularly with the 6 month notice period. Some landlords have been using this time to refurbish properties, while others have decided to sell.
- A significant trend is people currently relocating from city centres to more rural areas. Due to Covid and the increase in working from home, many people have been reassessing where they live and wanting to move to bigger properties outwith the cities.
- Teleconferencing arrangements have been well received for First Tier Tribunal as landlords don’t need to travel to the tribunal centre, so saves time and resources. The Tribunal can schedule more hearings and currently trying to get through the backlog.
- The short-term lets consultation proposed to extend the repairing standard and members on the whole support having the same safety regulations across the board.
- Landlords are concerned about what will happen in coming months when furlough ends.
4. VOIDS processing
- There has been an increase in the number of void properties. A suggestion was made that Councils may wish to consider what additional support may be needed should this continue.
- Highland Council noted an increased volume of allocations, almost back to a pre-Covid level.
- The Group noted concerns about any further restrictions impacting on tradesmen going into properties. Important that housing services continue and group felt the SG social media message was beneficial. Suggestion was made that could possibly have joint letter from Minister and Councillor.
- The Group was advised that the Minister is keen to see an increase in the allocations to homelessness and communication will shortly be issued on this matter.
Action: SG will discuss with COSLA possibility of a joint communication regarding tradespeople being able to continue to work in homes.
5. NRPF update
COSLA provided an update on the NRPF route-map. The consultation closed last week. This is a high level vision across government and the third sector. COSLA support in principle the route map and will work with SG on how to deliver. Looking to pilot some of these models with areas outwith Glasgow and Edinburgh. The group discussed the public health issue and a suggestion was made as to whether a definition from the public health perspective would assist in broadening out the capacity to help.
Action: PHS will follow up with SG to discuss this issue.
6. Scottish Government updates
Tenant Hardship Loan Fund – SG have been working at pace on this as due to be in place by start of November. SG will use existing loans contract, through Energy Savings Trust, to deliver the THLF. Members are keen to see the information once available on the loan fund.
Action: SG will advise when the information should be available for sharing with the group
Grenfell Tower Inquiry – This is due to publish this month. SG response to the Phase 1 inquiry report is currently with the Ministers. All the information received was fed into the final response.
Housing Options Hub Update – SG will copy these updates to the group for information
Rough Sleepers – weekly conversations between SG and Councils to keep up-to-date on the situation and also intelligence from Pathfinders. The Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans assisted LAs and partners. The rapid rehousing sub-group is meeting next week.
7. Action Log
- HARSAG reformed: Ending Homelessness Together action plan – intended publication date is 8 October. The next meeting is also 8 October.
- Unsuitable Accommodation Orders – SG to confirm guidance publication date
- Recovery of Justice System – two further developments: Unpaid Work Order Arrangements and the Early Release Mark 2. There is a rise in the numbers on remand so conversations on extending tagging and monitoring. A meeting of local leaders from the Community Justice Boards is planned for late October/early November.
8. Date of next meeting
Next meeting is 20 October 2020 from 10:30am until noon.