- 22 Mar 2021
Attendees and apologies
In attendance (virtually via Microsoft Teams call)
- John Mills, ALACHO (Chair)
- David Kemp, East Hub Rep
- Allan Jones, North and Islands Hub Rep
- Laura Caven, COSLA
- Stacy Dingwall, SFHA
- Andrea Elliot, South West Hub Rep
- Martin Smith, Tayside, Fife & Central Hub Rep
- Ewan Aitken, Cyrenians
- Tim Pogson, Scotland’s Housing Network
- Gary Fairley, Director of Finance, Midlothian Council
- Yvette Burgess, Housing Support Enabling Unit
- Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
- Kevin Wilkie, Scottish Government
- Matt Howarth, Scottish Government
- John Sharkey, Scottish Government (minutes)
- Julie Stewart, Scottish Government
- Janine Kellet, Scottish Government
- Maggie Brunjes, HNS
- Ruth Robin, NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Andrina Hunter, Inverclyde HSCP
- Jacqueline Fernie, West Hub Rep
Items and actions
1. Introductions, Minute and Actions
Kevin Wilkie chaired while John Mills dealt with technical issues in order to join the meeting. Kevin noted apologies, recorded above, and welcomed everybody to the meeting:
Minutes of the 17 November meeting were cleared and have been published online.
- RRTP (17/11) - Action 4 - SG to speak to members of the group and SG PRS
colleagues to give consideration to a webinar on the PRS.
Kevin confirmed meeting arranged between SG Homelessness Team and
SG PRS Team for Thursday 18 February.
- RRTP (21/5) - Action 6: Homelessness team to identify practice within RRTP.
Kevin advised this had been delayed due to competing priorities within the
team but would be picked up again at some stage in the future. The meeting
agreed this action could be closed.
- John Mills to share Fife’s Impact Assessment report with the
sub-group via eRDM Connect.
Due to staff changes at Fife John was unable to progress this action. The
meeting agreed it should be closed.
2. Scottish Government RRTP Update
Marion Gibbs provided an update from the SG Homelessness Team confirming that RRTP Funding for 2021/22 was finalised and confirmation was sent to Heads of Housing and Directors of Finance by the Minister in December 2020.
The First Minister announced on 30 November 2020 that the Scottish Government were committing £100m winter support funding to help those on low incomes, children and people at risk of homelessness or social isolation cope with winter weather and the economic impact of coronavirus and Brexit.
To support the increased pace of work around RRTPs as we look to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, a further £5m of funding was allocated during the current financial year.
John Mills asked whether Hub Reps could confirm how the additional RRTP monies are being spent and whether their local authorities had agreed this could be carried forward into next year. Allan advised that Aberdeenshire have agreed to carry forward and felt that having it branded ‘RRTP’ helped in this regard.
Andrea confirmed carry forward for the 5 year RRTP period has been agreed. Martin said that P&K are carrying forward and it has been factored into next year’s planning.
David advised Scottish Borders are carrying forward the funding into next year.
Kevin mentioned that from discussions with East Hub members he was aware of one local authority having a problem getting agreement to carry forward. John concluded that most appear to have agreement to carry forward but some don’t.
Marion continued by advising of funding distributed by Homeless Network Scotland through a “Winter Warmer” where £50,000 was made available for 1,000 people in TA to apply for a one off payment of £50.
In terms of local connection, Marion confirmed that the introduction of legislation is to be delayed until the next Parliamentary session until there is more certainty over the control of the coronavirus pandemic and a reduction in the need to restrict movement between local authority areas. She highlighted that the delay will provide time and space for some further discussion with local authority and other stakeholders to work through issues such as MAPPA which were raised during the consultation.
Marion updated the meeting on an extension of the temporary exceptions of the UAO. She confirmed that the Minister decided to further extend the temporary exceptions from 31 January 2021 until 30 June 2021. Also that a motion was laid to annul the extension but this was defeated on 10 February 2021 at the Local Government and Communities Committee. UAO Guidance was published on 31 January 2021
3. Roundtable Updates
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.
David provided an update highlighting that Edinburgh had established a Homelessness Prevention Working Group. Its Prevention App has also gone live.
East Lothian has commenced a rolling programme to designate temp accommodation as permanent tenancies. 13 conversions to date with a further 25 planned. Also piloting a new flat share scheme. Falkirk have developed a Prevention Fund, currently receiving applications. Also have an Employment Training Unit Action Plan focusing on single males 25-40 year old. Midlothian have largely ended use of B&B HMO use and also have a national housing project working with children’s services to provide support to 30 young care experienced people to help them live independently in the community. Scottish Borders commissioning first HF pilot. They have also, this week, put their Homelessness Intervention Fund in place. West Lothian have reached a target of 75 furnished RSL properties with a new target of 150 by March next year. Interim resettlement team in place to help with higher throughput and sustainment of housing.
Tayside Fife and Central
Martin gave an overview of activity in the Tayside Fife and Central Hub, highlighting that progress is being made in implementing HF, including for young people. PRS work is ongoing around engagement with landlords and tenants around prevention and in anticipation of ending of evictions embargo. He advised that some Hub members indicate that additional RRTP funding will go to recruiting additional staff, particularly around PRS and support. Prisoner release protocols have been mainstreamed by some members.
Allan advised that in addition to the shorter regular covid meetings the North Hub have begun having longer meetings in order to get a better view of what members are doing. In Aberdeenshire they are looking at opportunities that the pandemic has brought to make positive changes. Most recently homelessness cases have dropped by 39%. Aberdeenshire has also flipped 200 tenancies so far.
South West Hub
Andrea confirmed that the South West Hub are continuing to meet regularly to focus on recovery from covid. In Nth Ayrshire they are meeting with heads of service to discuss what happens when the evictions ban is lifted. More broadly they are seeing offers of lets slowing down due to covid restrictions. Two Hub members are stock transfer so don’t have option to flip tenancies. See RRTPs as a good platform to deal with Covid related issues.
The meeting agreed with John’s summation that while allocations are slow they are still progressing throughout lockdown.
3rd Sector Updates
Ewan highlighted that for the HF Pathfinders we are nearing a significant stage of transition and that work is ongoing to address a number of questions around the technicalities of transition. He said there is a lot to celebrate with having reached over 400 HF tenancies, 100 in Edinburgh, despite the pandemic restrictions.
He spoke about the combination of collaborative working, intensive support and named lists there has been a huge impact on rough sleeping. In Edinburgh there is currently 10 people they know of who are sleeping rough, with less than that in Glasgow. The Welcome Centres have played a significant role in that. The welcome centres are also providing better data and Ewan highlighted that it shows that 25 people per week are accessing the Edinburgh Welcome Centre with 50% never having accessed homelessness services before.
A PRS pilot by Cyrenians, Crisis and Streetwork has received additional funding till September, with a blueprint hopefully published at completion.
Housing Network Scotland
Tim began by pointing out that they have always supported the six stock transfer authorities and meet them quarterly to discuss the specific issues they face.
The RRTP performance reports from the Hubs have been published and a session to discuss these was offered to all 5 Hubs. Four sessions have been done and Tim is doing the last one with the East Hub next week.
Tim highlighted a HNS report looking at homelessness activity of housing associations across local authority areas. The report has been able to highlight relationships with individual LAs for HAs that span a number of authorities, such as Link, which covers 23 local authority areas. There are events planned next month to look at the findings.
Housing Support Enabling Unit
Yvette began by mentioning that the Better Futures outcomes tool is supporting a couple of HF projects.
She expressed disappointment that the Adult Social Care Review had made no reference to homelessness although housing was included. Will continue to input where possible to any future changes to ensure needs of homeless people are included.
Yvette is involved in research HNS have commissioned Indigo House to do around the need for supported housing. She is looking forward to findings and recommendations from its report.
Stacy highlighted the Social Housing Resilience Group issues with some members having difficulty getting contractors, particularly energy suppliers, to carry out work in voids. Resilience Group is currently working with Scottish Government and relevant bodies to address this.
Laura advised there was nothing to add or update from her side that hasn’t already been discussed so far.
John Mills confirmed ALACHO still meeting fortnightly with main focus on prevention of homelessness. Looked at PRG report, which is now with the Scottish Government and due to be published in February. Discussions around new build programmes and housing subsidy as well as Rapid Rehousing in the context of new supply.
4. HSCP / RRTP Network and Health Update
Matt provided an update from Ruth Robin (HIS)
A two year project is being led by HIS on Reducing Harm and Improving Care, with a focus on homelessness and substance use services, building on Hard Edges Scotland and learning from the pandemic, and will include lived experience. A flash report with more detail will be available for circulation shortly.
HIS also working on a national Learning Network, bringing together HSCP and RRTP reps, following a successful webinar on this in January, ‘The Role of Health and Social Care in Homelessness’.
Group members agreed to Ruth’s request to provide more detailed updates at the next RRTP sub group.
Matt also provided an update from Andrina Hunter (Inverclyde HSCP):In further reference to the webinar mentioned by Ruth, Andrina reported the plan to develop an HSCP/RRTP Network has progressed and is now being supported by HIS. All HSCPs have been contacted on a number of occasions with approx. 70% of HSCPs having now confirmed a representative for the network. Plans to develop the HSCP/RRTP Network further are being progressed with a joint webinar for HSCP link staff and RRTP Coordinators in the near future.
HSCPs continue to deal with the impacts of Covid with a key focus now on vaccination programmes with staff involved in administering vaccines; supporting the vaccination centres; and staff receiving their own vaccines.
The Independent Review of Adult Social Care published on 3rd Feb 2021 has 53 recommendations with the overarching redesign of the wider system based on human rights. Mention of housing but not homelessness specifically.
Matt also updated on health and homelessness activity more broadly: New COVID guidance for homelessness services published on Health Protection Scotland web-site, to be regularly updated. Alison King of PHS has been attending Hub meetings to discuss.
Engagement ongoing between SG Ministers and officials across homelessness and health in relation to ensuring the vaccination programme being able to reach all those who may be missed out, including those at risk of rough sleeping and also that there is consistency of delivery to frontline homelessness staff.
Group agreed that we should look at having a specific agenda item at the May meeting for Ruth to update in more depth about Learning Network and HIS project on Reducing Harm and Improving Care
5. RRTP Activities and Spend Template
Kevin confirmed that the template from June 2020 has been amended slightly. The template is looking to capture all funding secured by local authorities and cost-neutral projects undertaken. This includes EHT Funding carried over from 2019/20, the allocation from 2020/21 RRTP Funding and the £5m Winter Support Fund allocation.
Kevin invited feedback from the group on the template.
David said he felt the template was good and provided a proportionate way to report back. He recommended that any changes be minimal. It was agreed that the template was fit for purpose. It was also agreed that the date of 30th June was appropriate for submitting to Scottish Government.
Kevin advised that with LAs having different timescales regarding committee sessions LAs are being asked to send latest RRTPs when they’re able to.
There was discussion around the EQIA’s and whether it was required to submit an EQIA with each version of the RRTP? Allan confirmed that Aberdeenshire hadn’t submitted an EQIA apart from the first one. His understanding is that it is not normally required to submit EQIA at committee if it is just an update of an existing report.
Marion picked up on the point of increased lets to homeless households and the possible impact on other groups as something that came up during discussions around initial EQIAs underpinning RRTPs. It would therefore be useful to get an update on such impacts, particularly with the effect of the pandemic.
No one objected to a refresh of the EQIA being a requirement of updated RRTP but it was recognised each authority had different processes so it would be expected that whatever template/format used by each would be acceptable.
6. Housing First
Marion confirmed that the HF framework that has been developed by HNS will be launched at the HF Conference to be held 23-24 March.
The Pathfinders are working hard on the transition year of 2021/22. There has also been a huge amount of work carried out by the Pathfinders and across many local authorities that are not pathfinder authorities in developing HF.
Marion said they are starting to give consideration of how we monitor HF across Scotland.
Marion confirmed the HF Pathfinder tracker will continue for the Pathfinder areas for 2021/22 but there has been discussion with HNS about something more substantive that will provide reassurance to Ministers about the progress of HF across the country.
Marion also touched on discussion that is being developed about an enhanced ’governance’ structure to capture the good work around HF and reporting back to this Group.
Ewan welcomed Marion’s plans around future reporting for HF. He also spoke about standards and that it’s important to ensure that what is being called HF is in fact HF. He felt that it was important to make a commitment to quality and standards. He would like reporting to be showing more than numbers but what outcomes are being seen and what transformational change is it making to people’s lives.
Marion pointed towards the model of quality assurance using self-assessment and peer assessment which has been used for National Standards for Information and Advice providers as one we might be able to replicate.
John asked the group about frequency of reporting i.e. 6 monthly or quarterly.
Allan felt that reporting quarterly in terms of numbers wasn’t an issue but made the point that reporting outcomes is longer term. In Aberdeenshire he said outcomes are usually reported on an annual basis.
David said his preference would be 6 monthly reporting, perhaps moving to quarterly further down the line.
John summarised that he got a feeling from the group that in terms of numbers there should be regular feedback, quarterly or 6 monthly, but for outcomes perhaps annually. That was agreed.
Marion said she will be in a position to report back formally to the group at the next meeting in May on the new governance reporting structure for HF.
Rural Housing First Working Group
Allan updated the group on the work of the Rural HF group. He pointed out that there were 13 LAs at the last meeting, including Edinburgh and Falkirk although not seen as rural authorities but who feel they can take learning away from this group. Discussions of the group have included looking wider at HF Europe and worldwide, including Canada.
Alan also spoke about different elements to HF rurally leading to the question of whether we need different principles for HF in rural settings. For instance rather than a focus on people who may be sleeping rough they are looking at HF in rural areas as a tool for tenancy sustainment. They already have people in suitable tenancies so it’s more about keeping them in these, which is why Aberdeenshire are flipping so many tenancies.
7. Domestic Abuse Pathways
John highlighted the paper shared with the group which sets out the background to the Improving Housing Outcomes for Women and Children experiencing Domestic Abuse recommendations report published on 15 December 2020. There are a number of recommendations relating to Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and Housing First which the group are being asked to consider, including around national and local EQIA’s of housing strategy and policy, specific HF pathway for women experiencing DA, broader partnership working with Violence against Women and what specialist services are being commissioned or delivered through women’s aid groups. Also that a gendered analysis of homelessness be included in the next iterations of RRTPs.
John recognised that further discussion than can be managed during the time allotted today will be necessary but invited comments from the group.
In response to a point made by Allan during discussion, Julie confirmed the reason there is a focus in the report on women and girls experiencing domestic abuse is because this is the single biggest reason for women and girls becoming homeless. However, there is also recognition in the report that other groups also experience homelessness resulting from DA. She felt that RRTPs needed to reflect that a woman’s experience of homelessness can be very different to that of a man.
Laura highlighted the Equally Safe Strategy, which everyone in a local authority should be working to.
John pointed to the two main areas for the group at this meeting to be a gendered analysis of RRTPs and commissioning new RRTP guidance that incorporated this.
Ewan felt that in order to have consistency in how local authorities incorporate engendered analysis into their RRTP’s it would be necessary to have a frame of reference and perhaps training that could be carried out via the housing options hubs.
Janine highlighted that Engender have been asked to look at a gender analysis training programme for Scottish Government policy makers. She will be happy to share whatever they come back with to the group.
David said Scottish Borders has a partnership with VAW and they have touched on gender analysis at their meetings. He hopes he can take learning away from these discussions to any wider cross Hub discussions on the subject.
Following discussion it was agreed that the best way to take forward the RRTP related recommendations might be through an event similar to the RRTP Coordinators event held about a year ago. Kevin agreed to take this forward with a view that towards the end of April may be appropriate.
Julie encouraged everyone to read the guidance CIH published on domestic abuse for social landlords. Julie sent link to group.
John asked if Hub leads could ask that they have some discussion around the report similar to that of the group today.
David highlighted an issue across housing and social care with concern over the impact of poor mental health resulting from the pandemic on the sustainability of services, which is being discussed at a very senior level at Scottish Borders.
Laura advised that this has been raised at COSLA fortnightly meetings attended by trade union and Scottish Government. They are looking to update a mental health campaign from last year that she will share with the group.
Andrea will also share a link to a resource from SSSC/Care Inspectorate Resilience that may be of help.
John thanked everyone and brought the meeting to a close.
Next meeting 18th May 2021.