- 4 Sep 2020
Attendees and apologies
In attendance (virtual):
- John Mills, ALACHO (Chair)
- David Kemp, East Hub Rep
- Jacqueline Fernie, West Hub Rep
- Allan Jones, North and Islands Hub Rep
- Katey Tabner, COSLA
- Lorna Wilson, SFHA
- Maggie Brunjes, HNS
- Ruth Robin, NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Andrea Elliot, South West Hub Rep
- Janeine Barrett, South West Hub
- Martin Smith, Tayside, Fife & Central Hub Rep
- Yvette Burgess, Housing Support Enabling Unit
- Ewan Aitken, Cyrenians
- Tim Pogson, Scotland’s Housing Network
- Andrina Hunter, Inverclyde HSCP
- Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
- Kevin Wilkie, Scottish Government
- Matt Howarth, Scottish Government
- Julie Stuart, Scottish Government
- Gary Fairley, Director of Finance, Midlothian Council
Items and actions
1. Introductions, Minute and Actions
The chair noted apologies as recorded above and welcomed everybody to the meeting:
Minutes of the 19 May meeting were cleared and have been published online.
- RRTP (20/8) - Action 8: John Mills to share Fife’s Impact Assessment report with the sub-group via eRDM Connect. John confirmed that a colleague had picked up this action and will circulate via eRDM Connect when finalised.
- RRTP (21/5) - Action 6: Homelessness team to identify practice within RRTP. Kevin confirmed this has been delayed due to work on the Covid-19 pandemic being prioritised at present.
Scottish Government RRTP Update
The Homelessness Team provided an update with a focus on RRTPs activity and Covid-19 response:
Kevin confirmed that SG have so far received 31 RRTP Activity and Spend Monitoring templates and 13 RRTP updates/iterations from local authorities.
SG are now in the process of reviewing the information received and are planning to provide a written feedback to local authorities in within the next week.
Following the approval of the Scottish Budget for 2020/21, a letter confirming the RRTP funding for year 2 (2020/21) of RRTP implementation was sent letter today to the Directors of Finance and Heads of Housing.
RRTP Activities and Spend monitoring templates are key to informing discussions with COSLA around Year 3 (2021/22) RRTP funding. SG will be doing some analysis with a view to having discussions with COSLA to agree proposals to put forward for the settlement and distribution group.
The Homelessness Team have continued to work to support LAs and their partners to ensure a swift and coordinated response to address the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on homelessness services across the country. All five HO Hubs have continued to meet virtually since the end of March/start of April on a fortnightly or more frequent basis. This has provided a mutually beneficial mechanism for LAs and Scottish Government to gather local intelligence, share learning and update LAs on any Scottish Government developments and guidance in addressing the crisis.
Local Connection Consultation
The local connection consultation was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and went live on 3 August. The consultation will close on 23 October. Members of the team are speaking with all five HO Hubs in the next fortnight to answer any questions/discuss further.
If you have any networks that would like to discuss the consultation then please get in touch and we can make arrangements.
Kevin stated that approx. 27 local authorities will have commenced Housing First by end of 20/21, with an anticipated 350 HF tenancies that are not part of the pathfinder programme. Providing an update to the Minister on HF across Scotland.
3. Roundtable Updates
During updates, Chair was keen for the inclusion of domestic abuse, given people’s concerns about an upsurge in domestic abuse.
Housing Options Hubs
Each Housing Options Hub provided a written summary in advance of the meeting and gave a short verbal update to the sub-group covering main points.
Confirmed that the hub meetings have been invaluable. Some LAs still in crisis mode, some in recovery. Some LAs are making changes to their allocation policy and increasing lets to homeless applicants. Edinburgh have developed a domestic abuse policy, which was approved by committee in May. There is enthusiasm about RRTPs as we come out of crisis and into recovery.
Tayside, Fife and Central
There is still a focus on COVID and recovery planning. Also found the hub meetings useful.
There is a focus on recovery. LA’s are reviewing procedures and processes including Housing Options. They are seeing positives in working with RSLs. There was no notable increases in homelessness presentations due to COVID, except for Glasgow City Council and an increase in Section 5s going to Wheatley. The biggest issue is the pressure on temporary accommodation and an increase in furnished TA. Whilst domestic abuse partner agencies are seeing a rise in demand, LAs are not seeing an increase in homelessness presentations and not aware of an increase in refuge provision. There has been discussion on how LAs are reporting breaches in unsuitable accommodation order during COVID.
North and Islands
They also find the hub meetings helpful. A section 11 event was held with approx. 60 attendees. A recording of the event is available on Scotland’s Housing Network website. There is an ongoing project with Crisis and a few LAs working with the private rented sector. There is a lot of interest from PRS, questionnaires were sent to landlords and there has been more than 1000 responses received.
They also find the hub meetings useful. There is a focus on recovery plans so not much on RRTPs. Two of the LAs are moving ahead with Housing First with the others hoping to have something in place during 20/21. There is an increase in TA, they are looking to flip tenancies as part of HF as well as speaking to RSLs. No increase in domestic abuse presentations. Section 11s have increased.
Chair confirmed that there was unanimous support for the HO Hub meetings to continue to meet every 2 weeks. Minister had attended each HO Hub meetings at some point recently to hear from local authorities first hand.
It was indicated that LAs weren’t seeing an increase in presentations due to domestic abuse even though local weekly police data indicates domestic abuse incidents are increasing. It was suggested this was due to women not being able to access advice and going direct to refuges if they are able to.
John asked HO Hubs to reflect on domestic abuse and giving adequate support to local women’s aid groups and refuges. Mr Stewart and Cllr Whitham are particularly interested in this. Although there has been initial discussion on domestic abuse during hub meetings there can be further discussions.
3rd Sector Updates
Maggie Brunjes - Homeless Network Scotland
Maggie gave an overview of the Everyone Home Collective. There are now 29 organisations involved (new members are University of Edinburgh and Joseph Roundtree Foundation) and was formed to help protect progress made by partners and recognise the impact that COVID had on people experiencing homelessness. There have been two route maps published to help offer clarity and a way forward. One on hotels and night shelter provision and one on people with no recourse to public funds which is now out for consultation.
Ewan Aitken - Cyrenians
Indicated that there appears to be a slight return to people rough sleeping, about 50/60 now in Edinburgh though lower than pre-Covid numbers. There is a need to move away from night shelters into ‘welcome’ centres that are much more like hotel accommodation with additional support. The outcome of the emergency accommodation response during COVID was a greater level of engagement and a greater opportunity to get people onto the next stage. There needs to be a different approach this winter. Lots of work looking at using PRS. A homelessness app is being developed which is modelled on one in Manchester, providing advice. Lots of work on digital connection being led by the Simon Community.
Tim Pogson - Scotland’s Housing Network
Monitoring has been delayed due to COVID but they have received some ARC data. From the data they have received, local authority lets to homeless applicants remains the same at 42%, the RSL figure is 26%. 39% of referrals to housing associations end in a let. They are also gathering data on tenancies and sustainment across housing associations. The data will show where there are good partnerships and where there are barriers. Section 11 outputs are available on their website. They have a number of self-assessment frameworks. The temporary accommodation framework is close to being finalised.
Yvette Burgess - Housing Support Enabling Unit
Working on a recovery and renewal project. Interested in examples of new ways of partnership working in the HO Hub updates. HNS has commissioned Indigo House to do research into supported accommodation which HSEU are involved with. First task is to define Supported Accommodation.
Lorna Wilson - Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
SFHA recognise the opportunity and also the challenge of moving tenancies from TA to permanent accommodation. Good work is happening between RSLs and LAs on information sharing. There has been work on matching to make the system as quick and efficient as possible. Working with DWP on service design to ensure that benefits transfer as quickly as possible so that there aren’t rent arrears at the start of a tenancy where people are moving from hotels to tenancies. Also focused on prevention and are involved in work on Section 11. SFHA are also delivering the Homelessness Prevention Fund on behalf of SG, £1.5m of funding available over three years. This fund is live now with a closing date in early September.
Andrina Hunter - Health and Social Care Partnerships
HSCP have been maintaining their level of services during COVID, mainly focussing on care homes. Trying to start a network to link across wider HSCP across Scotland and also working with partners on how to involve the health sector better. Met with Crisis on their prevention duty work in relation to HSCP. HARSAG and COVID have helped build momentum with HSCP.
Ruth Robin - NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland
There are 4 housing programmes that will add value to RRTPs and HARSAG.
- Access to services
- Access to services for those cared for at home
- Working with Shelter Scotland on personal housing plans
- Support to multi-disciplinary, whole systems approach
Data shows a significant pressure on mental health services so it’s important to ensure that there are robust discharge protocols in place. Organised a housing and homelessness webinar with SG and Homeless Network Scotland, which sold out (100 attendees). They are also looking at what health can do at a national level in response to the HARSAG recommendations.
SG confirmed that there was a meeting the following day (19 August) to look at the health related HARSAG recommendations.
Katey Tabner - COSLA
There had been a fruitful discussion at the COSLA Wellbeing Board that morning involving the Minister. The board discussed a wide range of HARSAG recommendations, including allocations policy, housing supply, links to HSCP and pathways for young people. COSLA are feeding in top line proposals to the updated Action Plan, which is due to be at the next board meeting on 18 September.
Laura Caven will be taking up the COSLA housing role from 1 September but Katey will still retain interest in specific areas such as the unsuitable accommodation order.
John Mills - ALACHO
Heads of Housing are at recovery and renewal planning stage. There was initial concern at the number of HARSAG recommendations (104), however, a lot of the recommendations link back to the original HARSAG recommendations. It will be useful to focus down on what the recommendations mean for RRTPs. What is more relevant and urgent for the subgroup to consider and take back to HPSG.
ALACHO produced a paper on maximising housing options. There is a concern in that the anticipated increase in turnover of accommodation won’t be met. They are working with RSL and PRS to push through any barriers. HRA master class in business planning meetings are coming up, focussed on Housing Access; Voids and; funding for new build for the next 20 years.
4. RRTP Discussion
SG confirmed that the HARSAG recommendations were published on 14 July. SG are working with partners to publish a revised Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, aiming to publish in the autumn. A progress statement is likely to be made in the next few weeks about the most urgent actions.
Chair suggested a discussion on the following:
- How has/can the Covid-19 crisis help(ed) with the transition to Rapid Rehousing and Housing First?
- Considering the HARSAG2 recommendations, how have the priorities for RRTPs changed and how can these changes be implemented by local authorities?
- How can we ensure that the learning will feed into the implementation of RRTPs and HF in Scotland?
There was consensus that having RRTPs provided a good mechanism to plan recovery, without RRTPs LA’s would have been in a worse position to recover. The RRTPs are already covering what was asked for in the HARSAG recommendations.
There was discussion on having more information on legal issues relating to people with No Recourse to Public Funds. The Everyone Home Collective, working with SG and COSLA, have produced a route map for people with NRPF, which includes what can be done practically but the Collective would welcome feedback on the route map by the end of September 2020
The group discussed that relationships with HSCP had improved during COVID but there is a major challenge around temporary accommodation, which increased during COVID. Funding is still an issue. LA plans are ambitious but the level of funding also meant LAs had to reprofile and focus on key things if they received less funding than they asked for. It was considered it might be useful to have a discussion with COSLA on Year 3 funding given the realistic impact of COVID and revised priorities due to HARSAG recommendations.
It was agreed to have an item at the next subgroup meeting or an additional meeting on funding allocations for Year 3.
Action 2: SG to liaise with the Chair on holding an additional meeting on RRTP Funding for Year 3.
5. Housing First
Homeless Network Scotland confirmed that the Housing First Advisory Group are gearing up for how Housing First can be scaled up or support those areas that will scale up. A national framework is being developed with partners. The recovery for the housing system may be slow but Housing First is ready. The framework will go to public consultation in the autumn and we are looking for people to look at the document through different lenses. As well as context, the framework also provides learning from the pathfinders.
Feedback that one of the biggest learning from the pathfinders has been about relationships with housing providers. Partnership approach is vital for the long term and housing providers have to be able to understand the nature of that partnership and why a different approach from normal is required. Scaling up Housing First needs to be genuinely sustainable at a national level.
Members discussed the different approaches to Housing First around the country and there are lots of models being used to reflect local context. Aberdeenshire Council is leading on developing a group looking at rural Housing First, so far 12 LAs have signed up for it.
There was confidence a lot of Housing First projects will be started and it was agreed to keep Housing First on the agenda and to keep an active interest in the Housing First Advisory Group.
Action 3: SG to add Housing First as a standing agenda item going forward.
There was reminder to be mindful that LAs need to be ready to go back to crisis mode if need to, such as local lockdowns. There are a few weeks of critical work to get to 18 September when the revised Action Plan will go back to the Wellbeing Board.
Members agreed that whilst the next scheduled meeting is on 17 November, options for dates for a special meeting on funding for Year 3 will be circulated.
Next Meeting: 17 November 2020