Publication - Minutes

Local Authority Housing Resilience Group minutes: 8 September 2020

Published: 20 Oct 2020
Date of meeting: 8 Sep 2020

Minutes of the 8 September meeting of the Local Authority Housing Resilience Group.

Published:
20 Oct 2020
Local Authority Housing Resilience Group minutes: 8 September 2020

Attendees and apologies

Participants

  • Katey Tabner, COSLA (Chair)
  • Catriona MacKean, SG
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Stephen Clark, Stirling Council
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Clare Mailer, Perth and Kinross Council
  • Ashley Campbell, CIH
  • David Goldie, Highland Council
  • AnnMarie Carr, West Lothian Council
  • Janet Stitt, Inverclyde Council
  • Phil Daws, East Renfrewshire Council
  • Caroline Dicks, SG
  • Marion Gibbs, SG
  • Angela O’Brien, SG
  • Mandy Brown, SG (Secretariat)

Apologies

  • Naeem Bhatti, SG
  • Eloise Nutbrown, COSLA
  • Iona Macphail, Argyll & Bute Council
  • John Mills, ALACHO
  • David Simpson, Dundee City Council
  • Connie Smith, SG
  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • Peter Barry, SOLACE
  • Lorraine Smith, HSC Fife
  • Michael Cameron, SHR

Items and actions

1. Welcome and approval of previous minutes

Katey welcomed everyone to the meeting. The note of the previous meeting on 25 August was agreed.

2. Updates

Resilience Group Remit – Update to Terms of Reference

The group discussed the proposed updated Terms of Reference for the LARG and comments included:

  • Meeting fortnightly works well in terms of the Housing Options Hub
  • It would be useful to broaden out the remit to consider wider housing sector resilience in the context of covid-19, the related economic shock and the compounding impact of EU Exit
  • Discussions should continue to focus on resilience but recognise that there is an interaction between crisis response and what might be seen as “Business as usual” in a rapidly shifting context
  • The focus of the group could build on the Housing Sector Recovery Plan to further our understanding of the impact of Covid-19 and EU Exit on the sector; the risks this poses and identify joint priorities
  • The Housing Sector Recovery Plan is a helpful tool to coordinate across different groups and capture issues/actions.
  • Strategic links to Housing to 2040 will be important.
  • Continued connections and joint working with the other Resilience Groups, whilst avoiding overlap, will remain crucial but with clarity on the roles and relationships. 
  • Suggestion was made that add membership to the TOR

Action: circulate the updated Housing Sector Recovery Plan to the group when available

COSLA Update NRPF

Paper on NRPF issues will be circulated:

  • The Collective on Ending Homelessness Route-map has been developed. COSLA is in the process of consulting and will be considered by the COSLA Community and Wellbeing Board on 18 September.  
  • COSLA is keen to understand if any LAs beyond GCC and ECC are currently supporting EEA nationals or people with NRPF
  • COSLA are also undertaking a piece of work with Women’s Aid on Housing Outcomes for women and children with NRPF experiencing domestic abuse.

Action: Please contact COSLA with any views/information on these NRPF topics

Standing item VOIDS processing

West Lothian – 4% decrease in homelessness but pressure on numbers requiring accommodation.  Since April figures are 163 permanent, and of that 69% have been homelessness.  Slow and steady uptake on number of properties.  Trying to transfer lets to bring in more turnover.  There has also been some abandonment in some properties. 

Inverclyde – (stock transfer authority) no uptake from RSLs as late

PKC – Since 1 April, 258 completed which is 31 more than from the same period last year.  Some of the work has been outsourced.  Time to complete has increased slightly.  Drop in presentation of homelessness, at one point decreased by 19%, currently at 6%.  Had to use B&B for four short term placements.​​​​​​​

Stirling – Taking longer to complete void work due to COVID restrictions which was originally due to not being able to access properties but now due to difficulty getting tradespersons.  Numbers are down by about 25 % less every month.  Focusing on allocating to homelessness, with 60-70 properties taken in for temporary accommodation.  Slight reduction in homelessness figures so far.

Highland – Number of voids peaked in June, although the numbers are now coming down.  Most of the problems are with getting repairs completed.  Taken properties into temporary accommodation.  12% increase in the number of people in temporary accommodation.  Issues with how deal with backlog of cases – might be useful to find out LA approaches to serving notices.

East Renfrewshire – Increase in temporary accommodation mainly because void worked stopped at the beginning of COVID.  The void and allocations team are now back up and running.

The group agreed that although there has been an increase in temporary accommodation, they don’t predict this will be an ongoing issue as they are now allocating properties. 

The discussions then moved to PRS issues where the following points were raised:

  • It would be helpful to understand the potential position on PRS evictions once the restrictions are lifted.  Useful to have feedback on arrears levels and intentions of private landlords.
  • The Programme for Government provided information on extending the emergency provisions and new support for tenants.
  • Work required to ensure that DHPs and other support is being used to best effect.
  • ALACHO commented that the move to revert to shorter period for anti-social behaviour is very welcome.
  • SG advised Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Angus Councils have been working with crisis on PRS. 

Action: Invite John Blackwood from SAL to come along to a meeting to discuss the potential situation with PRS and if possible, also share SAL landlords members survey with the group

Action: Circulate text to group from the Programme for Government on extending the provisions and support for tenants

3. Action Log

ALACHO RAG – 5th survey was sent out on 21 August. Three authorities are showing red.  Pressure points largely remain the same.  Positive views on the unsuitable accommodation order.

HARSAG – COSLA and SG working to draft updated ending homelessness action plan.  Papers will be going out next week for discussion, and hopefully the document will be available by the end of the month.  Due to go to Wellbeing board on 18 September.

PHS update –  Conversations ongoing, mapping out work for new research project.  PHS will share more information when available.

Hub Updates – no update

Recovery document – been circulated and PRS have submitted comments which will need to be considered.  SG will prepare another position statement for the Chairs meeting with the Minister later in September.

Restarting services –  ALACHO looked at this issue and the feedback was positive from LAs.  Getting back to business as usual as far as possible. 

Unsuitable Accommodation – draft guidance and paper going to Wellbeing Board.  There may be changes to the paper that goes to the Board.  UA meeting tomorrow which will review in tandem the SSI and guidance.  This will then go to the members of the board for ratification.

Info sharing between resilience groups – move to completed. 

Early Prisoner release – move to completed.  ALACHO advised conversations currently ongoing around community justice system and remand prisoners.

Action: Add new action point on Recovery of Justice System

Area Based Energy Schemes / Fuel Poverty – work with LAs to understand fuel poverty, impact of COVID, economic shock, EU exit. Research has been done regarding the experiences of fuel poverty.

Action: Circulate paper on the research regarding the experiences of fuel poverty.

Heat Decarbonisation - new gas connections are ending after 2024. SG advised Heat Decarbonisation policy statement and new Energy Efficient Scotland route map with be published towards end of 2020 setting out key milestones.

Action:  Add new action Heat Decarbonisation as an ongoing action to discuss further

PRS update - Uptake of DHPs in PRS and how DHPs are delivered by LAs. 

Action:  SG update on DHPs to be circulated

Test and Protect – Perth and Kinross Council updated on the recent challenging outbreak in Couper Angus.  The Council had supported people in their own households and no additional accommodation was required.  PKC worked very effectively with local public health officials.  The Council delivered a debrief across Tayside which was received positively.

Action: Prepare a brief lessons learned for housing services.  ALACHO offered to help with coordinating.

4. AOB

Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Issues

COSLA updated the meeting on Gypsy/Traveller accommodation issues. 

  • COSLA and SG will be sending out a communication to councils this week to advise on how LAs with sites can access their allocation of the £2m capital funding. 
  • COSLA will also host an online meeting for site managers on 1 October. 
  • COSLA will also issue a call for information from Heads of Housing and Directors of Finance on any additional/future capital spending requirements that might be anticipated or possible over next 3-5 year period to deliver more and better equipped sites
  • COSLA launched a pilot of the negotiated stopping approach to supporting roadside camps last week.  The pilot will support public health and human rights approaches; collect research data on Gypsy/Travellers experiences and needs when staying roadside; support improved service delivery and a better understanding of costs involved in supporting encampments
  • East Ayrshire, Moray and Perth are all formally piloting and COSLA are looking for as many councils as possible to also participate.