Ministerial Oversight Group on Homelessness minutes: September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 28 September 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Paul McLennan (Chair) (PML), Minister for Housing
  • Maree Todd (MT), Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport
  • Emma Roddick (ER), Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees
  • Patrick Harvie (PH), Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights
  • Natalie Don (ND), Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise
  • Jenni Minto (JM), Minister for Public Health and Women's Health
  • Janine Kellett (JK), Homelessness Unit
  • Kevin Fulton (KF), Legislation and Future of Custody Unit 
  • Aime Jaffeno (AJ), Drugs Policy Whole Systems Unit
  • Dominic Brack (DB), Care Experience and Whole Family Wellbeing Unit
  • John Mooney (JMY), Veterans Unit
  • Pamela McBride(PM), Homelessness Unit
  • Lesley Moorhouse(LM), Homelessness Unit
  • Jo Matthews (JMS), Business Manager Directorate for Offshore Wind Unit
  • Jacqueline Knox (JX), Learner Support Unit


  • Elena Whitham, Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy
  • Siobhan Brown, Minister for Victims and Community Safety
  • Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Local Government and Planning
  • Graeme Dey, Minister for Higher and Further Education, and Minister for Veterans

Items and actions

PML welcomed everyone, explaining the purpose of the group is cross governmental working, as preventing homelessness is a shared public responsibility and cuts across portfolios. He invited ministers to make any initial comments on the proposals for the oversight group, which will meet quarterly, as well as any comments on the proposed objectives and terms of reference.

Ministers welcomed the establishment of the group. MT was clear that the group should not be a ‘talking shop’ and that it needed to have tangible outcomes. MT was mindful that mental health can be a key reason why people become homeless (or are at higher risk of) and thus key to keep homelessness top of mind.

PH reiterated MT’s desire for an action focus of the group and said the forthcoming homelessness prevention legislation presents a huge opportunity for Scotland.

All ministers confirmed they were content with the terms of reference and the objectives of the group.

JK provided broader context on the significance of the Hard Edges Scotland report which highlights the mismatch between the severe and multiple disadvantage that some people face and the fact that services are often set up to address single issues. This group can help address that siloed way of thinking and working.

Matt Downie, Crisis and Ewan Aitken, Cyrenians, joint chairs of a task and finish group on homelessness prevention, joined the group for a session on preventing homelessness. They explained that although Scotland has world leading legislation once a person is homeless, the same strong protections are not in place when it comes to preventing homelessness. They made the financial and moral case for preventing homelessness and expressed the view that a collaborative approach will provide the solution, as the causes and consequences of homelessness cut across other agendas including poverty, health, substance abuse, criminal justice and so on. They asked that ministers focus on joined up strategic and budgetary planning; that they commission specific pieces of cross-portfolio policy development, such as data sharing, and focus on monitoring and accountability. 

In response to the presentation, ND highlighted linkages between Keeping The Promise, whole family wellbeing and preventing homelessness. Cyrenians responded The Promise is an example where high quality prevention work could take place if we work collaboratively, and will share a short brief on this.
JM expressed interest in the Cyrenians’ hospital in-reach programme and its effectiveness in reducing hospital readmissions, and said she would be keen to see the evaluation. Cyrenians will share their evaluation paper on this.

PML indicated he is keen for the group to map the landscape of existing policy /action groups/legislation and noted there will be opportunity for touchpoints with homelessness to be discussed in future meetings. MT flagged that GIRFE pathfinders have not been included in the spreadsheet (Paper 2) and took an action for her officials to link in with homelessness policy officials. JM flagged rural homelessness and ND similarly highlighted insufficient housing supply in rural areas as areas of concern.

PML said that he intended to invite external speakers to future meetings, noting an opportunity to include stakeholders from other portfolios. Secretariat indicated officials are compiling options for future guests to speak, such as inviting people with lived experience, organisations that work with young people, and homelessness expert Professor Suzanne Fitpatrick.


  • secretariat to share Crisis/Cyrenians slides with group
  • secretariat to share evaluation of Cyrenians’ hospital in-reach programme and brief on The Promise with group
  • officials from Social Care and National Care Service Development to ensure GIRFE pathfinders are captured in spreadsheet
  • publish agreed terms of reference
Back to top