Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans Sub Group minutes: February 2023
- Local Government and Housing Directorate
- Part of
Minutes of the meeting of the group, held on 14 February 2023.
Attendees and apologies
In attendance (virtually via Microsoft Teams call)
- John Mills, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) (Chair)
- Emma Mathews, Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU)
- Maggie Brunjes, Homeless Network Scotland
- Lynn Leitch, Tayside, Fife and Central Hub Rep
- David Kemp, East Hub Rep
- Ruth Robin, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Allan Jones, North and Islands Hub Rep
- Tim Pogson, Scotland’s Housing Network (SHN)
- Eileen McMullan, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)
- John Sharkey, Scottish Government (minute taker)
- Jacqueline Fernie, West Hub Rep
- Yvette Burgess, Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU)
- Sarah Walters, CRISIS
- Prof Sarah Johnsen, Heriot Watt University
- Donna Mcilwraith, South West Hub Rep
- Lesley Cockburn, Inverclyde HSCP
- Janeine Barrett, South West Hub Rep
- Jonathan Belford, Chief Officer, Finance, Aberdeen City Council
- Mike Callaghan, COSLA
- Anne Malarkey, HSCP
- Brian Finch, Scottish Government
Items and actions
Introductions, minute and actions
John opened the meeting by paying tribute to Marion Gibbs of the Scottish Government Homelessness Unit who had sadly passed away in December. Marion had been a key member of the Group and more widely her valuable contribution to the homelessness sector in Scotland over many years was recognised.
Closed actions since last meeting on 15 November
- RRTP (15/11) action 1 - Maggie to arrange for speakers to attend next sub-group meeting to discuss publication looking at future and preferred role of the PRS in homelessness. Rhiannon Sims and Sarah Walters attending 14 February meeting
- RRTP (15/11) action 3 - Housing Options Hubs to be asked to provide some working examples of gendered analysis, including examples of EQIAs. Email issued to Hub leads requesting examples from local authority members
- RRTP (17/5) action 4 - Homelessness Unit to arrange meeting with SHN to discuss feedback from monitoring report, to provide update at August meeting. Due to resourcing limitations within the Homelessness Team, this action has been delayed
- RRTP (15/11) action 2 - invite Drugs Mission partners along to a future meeting of the RRTP Sub-group. Ruth and John taking this forward
Scottish Government RRTP Update – John Sharkey
RRTP activity and Spend Returns 2021/22
- activity and Spend returns received from 28 of the 32 local authorities
- the feedback process is pretty much concluded barring one or two loose ends
- the next step of pulling information together from the returns to produce the annual RRTP report has stalled due to resourcing issues. Team will look to reconvene that work as soon as is possible
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)
- from 1 January 2023 local authorities have been funded to mitigate the benefit cap through the DHP scheme as far as they are able within devolved powers
- anyone in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit with a housing element who has been affected by the cap will be able to claim a DHP towards the amount that their benefits have been reduced by the cap
- Scottish Government has committed to meeting all DHP-benefit cap expenditure
Prevention of homelessness duties
- confirmation of intention to include the duties in the Housing Bill which will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament as soon as possible after summer recess
- short and targeted programme of stakeholder engagement to discuss specific proposals in more detail has begun
Unsuitable Accommodation Order
- in the November return, 20 out of 32 local authorities provided data and this information showed that four had more than 10 breaches, 5 had less than 10 breaches and 11 had no breaches
- short life working group established in October 2021 to help produce a new standards framework and consider how the framework can be regulated and legally enforced
- Cab Sec agreed the standards framework on 11 January noting that the route for legal enforcement of the framework is yet to be decided
- standards will be formally consulted on as part of the process to make them legally enforceable
- local authorities and social landlords expected to work towards meeting before the framework becomes legally enforceable
During follow up questions to SG from the group, the Chair offered to contact those local authorities still to submit RRTP activity and spend returns to discuss further. John Sharkey will forward information to Chair.
John Mills also highlighted some publications that might be of interest to the Group:
- SHR report on Homelessness Homelessness services in Scotland: A thematic review - February 2023 | Scottish Housing Regulator
- CIH report on Rapid Rehousing to be published later in February
- final report of the Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group should be presented to Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group at its meeting on 30 March and published shortly after
The Chair highlighted that only written updates required from Housing Options Hubs reps for this meeting.
Alan highlighted that Hubs met recently and proposed that in future Hubs will meet prior to Sub-Group meeting with a view to providing an update highlighting particular concerns or practice rather than going through each hub update separately. This was welcomed by the Group.
Maggie referenced a joint letter from the homelessness sector to the Cab Sec highlighting housing pressures in Scotland, the response to which had previously been shared with the group. Subsequently, a meeting was held in December with Scottish Government Directors, Deputy Directors and Unit Heads, ahead of a meeting on 21 February with Cab Sec (now postponed) and the Minister with responsibility for the Ukrainian Refugee Programme.
Tim highlighted the recently published SHN good practice guide ‘Using The Private Rented Sector To Meet Homelessness Demand’, which was completed with contributions from six local authorities. The next Homelessness Forum is taking place this week with items including North Ayrshire RRTP progress and the Shared Spaces research. Next meeting of the PRS Forum on 15 March will be looking at good practice from Aberdeen City Council as well as the aforementioned PRS good practice guide.
Yvette advised that HSEU had been contacted about assisting with research/survey being commissioned by DWP around supported exempt accommodation in Scotland. Part of this will be compiling a list of providers of supported housing in Scotland.
Eileen said an event in conjunction with Homeless Network Scotland that was previously postponed now looks like it will go ahead in April. She highlighted two forums that might be of interest to the Group – Housing Management and Community Investment Forum, and the other Forum is focused on the National Care Service.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Ruth spoke about NHS redesign. Housing portfolio will no longer have a dedicated housing resource but instead housing will be included within programmes of work. Ruth will keep the group updated on this and also work around ‘Coming Home’, which she also touched on.
A route forward for the Private Rented Sector (PRS)
Sarah Walters of CRISIS presented to the group as part of the Everyone Home Collective on the future and preferred role of the PRS in homelessness.
The group discussed the role of PRS in homelessness, recognising the challenges that can be faced in rehousing homeless households in the PRS, such as affordability, but also the benefits it can bring, such as choice. It was also pointed out that housing support is available to access across any tenure, including PRS.
HF pathfinder evaluation
Professor Sarah Johnsen gave a presentation and discussed with the group the key messages and findings from ‘Scotland's Housing First Pathfinder: Final Evaluation’, which was carried out by Heriot Watt University and I-SPHERE.
Sarah took some questions and discussed further with the group some of the points brought up in her presentation, including around options for those for whom HF may not be a good fit and the complexities and challenges for health and social care staff working in HF roles.
HF check up
Due to technical issues Maggie’s presentation on the Housing First 2022 Check Up was unable to proceed and will now be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
Allan Jones confirmed Rural HF group meetings are well attended. A focus of the most recent meeting was people being released from prison and people in remand. This is having an impact on HF where for instance, someone may be in remand for over six months and Universal Credit has stopped, so how is the tenancy sustained.
The next meeting will look at peer work.
RRTP funding - post 2024
Janine Kellett advised on the future of RRTP funding with the five-year cycle of RRTPs due to end in 2023-24. Janine reminded the group of the Scottish Government commitment to £100m Ending Homelessness Together budget, which spans an eight-year period. While it has to be recognised that budgets are set year to year in SG, Janine doesn’t foresee a cliff edge. Officials will keep the group updated as budget discussions progress ahead of 2024-25.
Any other business
Ruth highlighted that HIS have applied to be part of the commission of the Coming Home Implementation report. Ruth is looking to have discussions with housing colleagues to help with the housing contribution to that work. John proposed to Ruth that this might be added to the forthcoming ALACHO meeting agenda.
Chair brought in John Sharkey at this point to highlight the key points from the HF monitoring report, which will be published soon.
- data collected by the Scottish Government confirms that an estimated 1,403 HF tenancies have started across Scotland at 31 December 2022
- a total of 70 new HF tenancies started between 1 October and 31 December 2022
- four tenancies had begun prior to this period, which had not been captured in previous reports
- this brings the total number of HF tenancies started since 1 April 2021 to 586
- of the 586, there are 547 HF tenancies current, 39 tenancies having ended (none ended in eviction)
- 54 tenancies are in the ‘step down’ phase, where agreement is reached between the tenant and lead support worker that support is no longer required, therefore a regular check-up process is agreed so that support can re-engage if required
- eight are in the ‘stand down’ phase, which is when HF support is no longer required
Date of the next meeting is still to be confirmed.
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