- 28 Sep 2021
1. Introductions, Minute, Actions and RRTP Sub-Group Terms of Reference.
John welcomed Jordan Manning from the East Hub.
Minutes of the 18 May meeting were cleared.
RRTP (16/5) - Action 1 - SG to track changes to the Terms of Reference and share with the group for agreement.
Amended Terms of Reference following feedback at the meeting on 18 May and electronically were shared with the group. The group agreed to endorse the Terms of Reference; Chair asked that the updated Terms of Reference be shared with HPSG.
RRTP (16/5) - Action 2: Hub representatives to check with their respective hubs on whether they would be content to share the Activity and Spend returns with Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
Scottish Government confirmed that there was agreement, however a few local authorities wished to see the feedback from the Scottish Government from the RRTP Activity and Spend review process prior to it being released to HIS.
Further discussion between the Chair, Scottish Government officials and HIS are scheduled for 31 August 2021.
1. Updated Terms of Reference to be shared with HPSG.
2. Scottish Government RRTP Update
RRTP Leads and Co-ordinators Event
Scottish Government hosted their second national RRTP co-ordinators event on 2 June 2021, 31 local authorities attended the event held online. A summary report is being developed, once it has been finalised it will be shared with the group.
The agenda for the event included:
- An overview of Scottish Government priorities.
- Presentation from Perth and Kinross about what a mature RRTP looks like.
- A session on Housing First took place where Highland Council and North Ayrshire Council gave an overview of their approach to Housing First. The Rock Trust provided information on their work across local authorities in delivering Housing First for Youth.
- The Scottish Association of Landlords attended giving a short session on the Private Rented Sector and how Local Authorities can improve access to the private rented sector.
- Breakout sessions were held with local authorities sharing learning from throughout the pandemic, as well as discussing opportunities and barriers to the implementation of RRTPs.
- Discussion around the recommendations contained within the Domestic Abuse Prevention Pathway which relate to RRTPs.
- The Scottish Government hope to host another in 6 months.
RRTP- Activity and Spend Returns
The vast majority of the RRTP Activity and Spend templates have been received from local authorities. The Team are working through the review process with a completion target of around the end of August for feedback to local authorities.
Unsuitable Accommodation Order
The decision has been taken to extend the Unsuitable Accommodation Order exemptions for a further 3 months to 30 September 2021. Scottish Government have arranged an event on 19 August 2021 to allow local authorities to share good practice and examples of how to avoid breaches of the Order.
Scottish Government are meeting with the local authorities with the most acute challenges in meeting the UAO and are discussing the key issues and support required and to ensure that they have robust plans in place to work towards compliancy with the Order.
Scottish Government were asked for clarity around the Unsuitable Accommodation Order: As a group with responsibility for having oversight over Rapid Rehousing, what is our expectation of local authorities, particularly for those who are going to have the biggest challenge in terms of meeting the terms of the order; will there be continuing exceptions or support?
Scottish Government stated that exceptions will not be extended beyond 30 September, accepting the fact that there will be breaches subsequent to this date. Scottish Government are working to ensure that there are plans in place to prevent local authorities breaching the Order.
No Recourse to Public Funds
Local authorities have been enquiring about how to accommodate people with No Recourse to Public Funds as we move beyond level 0, particularly in the context of EU citizens who do not have settled or pre-settled status. Scottish Government are working with COSLA to update the guidance for local authorities on this issue. Timescales for this guidance has not yet been finalised.
Ending Homelessness Together annual report
Scottish Government has started working on the annual Ending Homelessness Together progress report which is scheduled to be published in the first week of October.
Scottish Government are working with COSLA on the report. COSLA will liaise with the Scottish Government with regards to local authority case studies which may be required, prior to the draft report being submitted to COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Board on 17 September.
The Scottish Government were asked if there was a timeline update around future RRTP funding. The Scottish Government explained that there is no commitment yet to future funding but they are starting to develop advice for the Cabinet Secretary. Similar to last year they would arrange a further meeting of the RRTP Sub-Group to discuss the distribution formula if required. They would attempt to get any funding confirmed for further financial years by December 2021.
Scottish Government were asked that an action be added to the action log that work be carried out to outline funding allocations from the additional funding promised through the SNP 2021 Manifesto.
Action 2: Scottish Government will arrange a meeting of the RRTP Sub-Group in the autumn to discuss how RRTP funding is allocated.
Action 3: Scottish Government to provide the RRTP Sub-Group with an update on Ending Homelessness Together Funding.
3. Roundtable Updates
Housing Options Hubs
All of the Housing Options Hubs provided a written summary in advance of the meeting and gave a short verbal update to the sub-group covering main points.
The East Hub continues to meet fortnightly, and alternates between themed events and local authority updates respectively. Hub members are focusing on Prevention Pathways, in particular Young People and Prison Leavers. Work is also underway on RRTP engagement strategies, early intervention on rent arrears, and the provision of low level support with the aim of creating faster throughput from temporary to permanent accommodation. Scottish Borders Council have recently completed the tendering process for a Housing First support provider and hope to have their Housing First programme operational by October.
Tayside, Fife and Central
The Tayside, Fife and Central Hub continue to meet monthly. They are currently trying to cover Covid and RRTP related issues, whilst also trying to reintroduce normal Hub business. Most members reporting that homelessness applications are fairly steady but continue to be lower than pre-pandemic levels. Most services are still predominately remote, however gradually face-to-face services are beginning to return.
Most local authorities are considering medium to long term plans for service delivery.
Housing First and Housing First for Youth are being progressed to different extents by most members.
The numbers in temporary or B&B accommodation are reducing. There has been lots of work around prevention and early intervention, which is a theme across the Hub. Local authorities are looking to work with the private rented sector to increase access and also around prevention from evictions.
No representative available to attend the meeting, a written update was provided for members of the group.
North and Islands Hub
The North and Islands Hub has reverted to meeting every four weeks, with a longer meeting every quarter. There seems to be an inconsistency in homelessness applications, numbers have fluctuated considerably month on month in Aberdeenshire. Most members are now working up Housing First and Aberdeen City/Shire are mainstreaming the Housing First Pathfinder Programme. There are issues around people with NRPF for people in the fishing and agriculture industries who haven’t applied for settled status.
South West Hub
The South West Hub continue to meet on a monthly basis. The Hub have moved from a focus on stats to more of a focus on sharing experiences and practices.
North Ayrshire have been part of the Healthcare Improvement Scotland Improvement Programme, looking at health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness who have substance misuse issues. All Hub members are progressing with Housing First. There is focus around Section 11.
3rd Sector Updates
Scotland’s Housing Network (SHN)
Work is underway to look at the homelessness activities of the larger housing associations exploring good practice around making lets available to people experiencing homelessness and tenancy sustainment. Discussions have taken place around the relationships between six local authorities and RSLs
There has been a proposed establishment of a network to support staff who are working to prevent homelessness and source properties from the private rented sector. A proposal has been submitted to Scottish Government officials to enquire if there is any funding to support this group.
SHN were asked if this would be a group which would extend membership to the third sector. Confirmed that the intention is to have a core membership from local authorities and then to widen the membership to key stakeholders.
A survey has been carried out with the aim of understanding the various different approaches from local authorities in terms of the implementation of the Prevent 1 data. A meeting will be convened with the Hub Working Group around this to understand what additional support can be put in place and what the next steps might be to ensure a consistent approach.
SHN are now in a position to undertake the annual RRTP monitoring exercise, on a similar basis from previous years. Chair sought and gained agreement from the group whether they were happy for SHN to progress with the hub reports.
Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU)
HSEU have developing a cost benefit analysis to highlight the role of housing support and the savings towards prevention. The analysis is about housing more generally, however homelessness is featured in the case studies. This will be circulated in the coming weeks.
A photography competition is currently running involving Housing First tenants, this will continue until the middle of September.
The Scottish Government provided funds to 12 innovative projects working on prevention, the majority of which are currently underway. A progress report will be published in October which SFHA will share with the Group.
SFHA have also been working with Homeless Network Scotland, Simon Community Scotland and Crisis to commission research to create a toolkit to prevent evictions. Consultants have taken a case study approach. If any local authorities feel there is good practice in their area, please contact Eileen at SFHA.
A paper on the Tenants Grant Fund is going to COSLA Leaders on 27 August, this fund would be administered by local authorities. Proposed that COSLA share the paper once published with the group for information. A paper on concurrent risks facing Local Authorities which covers issues such as material shortages, void processing and the wider issue of meeting the UAO is also going to COSLA leaders.
The general view from Heads of Housing is that RRTPs are now moving forward and are being embedded, with the hope of moving RRTPs to more of a prevention focus.
The main focus for Heads of Housing has been the end of the UAO. ALACHO have also discussed the need for guidance for practitioners around people with No Recourse to Public Funds. They are also focused on the energy efficiency standards, and are continuing with building new properties, despite the cost of materials rising.
ALACHO are meeting with the Cabinet Secretary to speak about Scottish Government priorities going forward.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
In the absence of the HIS representative of the group, Scottish Government provided a brief update on the ‘Reducing Harm, Improving Care’ project, to highlight that four areas have been selected to take part: North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, North Ayrshire and Edinburgh.
Lived experience is part of this project, working with Homeless Network Scotland and the Scottish Drugs Forum, looking to have a soft launch on 16 September, to inform the wider system of the aims and objectives are, but also to share an open invitation to join a learning network during the 2 year project. There is an infographic which explains the aims of the project.
Chair asked for a full progress update from Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
Action 4: Healthcare Improvement Scotland to provide a progress update to the RRTP Sub-Group
4. Housing First
Housing First Pathfinder Programme
Scottish Government funding for the Pathfinder Programme will cease at the end of September. All areas have different plans for mainstreaming and moving forward.
Following media interest in the Housing First Programme in Dundee, in-depth discussions have taken place with the council and partners.
The Quality Assurance Framework which is being put in place aims to ensure that anything which is created within the Housing First space remains faithful to the principles. This will be assessed by a combination of self and peer assessment, in addition to a sounding panel.
Housing First Monitoring
Quarterly monitoring across the whole of Scotland began in April. This shows that the majority of local authorities are implementing a Housing First programme.
The monitoring will provide a comprehensive overview of support provision and support providers. It will also provide a good basis of evidence in terms of what a Housing First journey look like, and the human impact it has on peoples’ lives.
Work had been done to try to find similar examples of monitoring in other countries, however Scotland are very much at the forefront with this. Work is currently underway with Scottish Government officials, including statisticians and Homeless Network Scotland to ensure that the monitoring framework is as comprehensive as possible. The Scottish Government aim to have the first quarterly report complete by the end of September.
Scottish Government were asked if there was a general concern within the pathfinders around mainstreaming. Scottish Government confirmed that all local authorities involved in the pathfinder programme, apart from Glasgow who are continuing with the consortium until the end of March, are not continuing with the Pathfinder model. Approaches range from taking the service in house, to support being provided by one of the consortium partners.
Homeless Network Scotland confirmed that they are currently reviewing the independent evaluation of the Housing First Pathfinder Programme.
Rural Housing First Working Group
Rural Housing First Group continues to progress well, met for the third time on 14 July 2021. Presentation given by Churches Action for The Homeless (CATH) around self-directed support.
Aberdeenshire Council has recently completed its third year outcome report for their Housing First Programme, which has shown positive outcomes, and has demonstrated that people supported by Housing First have made good changes to their lives, particularly reducing contact with police and prison services.
Local authorities provided positive updates on progress and a number of Local Authorities are planning to start a Housing First programme. The next meeting is scheduled for October.
Homeless Network Scotland (HNS) - Housing First Check Up Process
HNS provided an update on the Housing First Check Up Process paper which was shared in advance of the meeting, with the request for sign-off from the group.
The Check Up Process aims to create a simple and effective way to align with existing structures and frameworks within local authorities. In addition, the process should support the quality of Housing First support services in each local authority, fidelity to the principles of Housing First and may be a catalyst for improvement in other housing and homelessness services. It should also provide more clarity on when local areas can step down, and stand down Housing First support.
The process will involve five stages, enabling a 360 degree insight into how Housing First is being delivered. Homeless Network Scotland hope to start this process in October, so that by March, all local authorities who have been providing Housing First for at least a year would participate.
The approach was agreed with the RRTP Sub-Group. The Check Up paper will now be taken to the next HPSG meeting, and implementation will commence from October 2021.
Cyrenians raised concerns about the impact of a National Care Service on local government, due to the move away from local approaches to local circumstances.
Opinion was expressed that Covid has shown us that a public health approach to homelessness has the right impact, taking a more holistic view, bringing services together to provide person-centred responses.
Scottish Government confirmed that HPSG made a submission in December to the Feeley Report consultation. The final report didn’t explicitly mention homelessness, this issue was highlighted to officials leading on the commission. Since then, meetings have taken place with the team leading on the consultation. They added that as Mr Stewart is the Minister homelessness has been at the forefront of his agenda therefore buy-in is already present.
Yvette observed that Alcohol and Drugs issues fall within the National Care Service to a greater extent than was mentioned in the Feeley Review, which speaks of the Hard Edges Agenda. SFHA and HSEU confirmed they organised an event which involved officials from the Scottish Government, Mental Health and Social Care Directorate. There is surprise the consultation doesn’t mention housing more due to the scope of the National Care Service being extended beyond that which was envisage by the Feeley Review.
Chair confirmed that it was important that there was coherent feedback with regards to the importance of housing and homelessness to prevention and better outcomes for people.
SFHA view was that the mention of homelessness was actually more explicit than in the Feeley Review, however hope there will be opportunity to develop this through the consultation. Also mentioned that the agenda of supporting independent living has not been addressed.
Chair stated that we must look at the National Care Service Consultation through the lens of housing and homelessness, to ensure that the connections which have already been developed, particularly through RRTPs, are not disrupted.
Chair agreed that a consultation piece could be developed with HPSG and encouraged as many organisations to make the point about the good links which have been made through RRTPs. Chair agreed that he will highlight as an area for discussion with HPSG at the next meeting on 23 September 2021.
Concerns were also raised with regards to changes to local connection, due to the risk of people with complex needs moving to rural locations where support services are limited. Allan wonders if this is an area which requires attention, due to its impact on health services.
Action 5: Scottish Government officials to have the National Care Service Consultation added to the HPSG agenda for September 2021.
Attendees and apologies
John Mills, ALACHO (Chair)
Jordan Manning, East Hub Rep
Allan Jones, North and Islands Hub Rep
Laura Caven, COSLA
Eileen McMullan, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Andrea Elliot, South West Hub Rep
Martin Smith, Tayside, Fife & Central Hub Rep
Ewan Aitken, Cyrenians
Tim Pogson, Scotland’s Housing Network
Yvette Burgess, Housing Support Enabling Unit
Maggie Brunjes, Homeless Network Scotland
Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
Kevin Wilkie, Scottish Government
Matt Howarth, Scottish Government
Katy Burns, Scottish Government (minute taker)
Gary Fairley, Director of Finance, Midlothian Council
David Kemp, East Hub Rep
Anne Malarkey, Inverclyde HSCP
Jacqueline Fernie, West Hub Rep
Ruth Robin, Healthcare Improvement Scotland