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
Andrea Elliot, South West Hub Rep
Jacqueline Fernie, 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
Ruth Robin, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
Janine Kellett- Scottish Government
Kevin Wilkie, Scottish Government
Katy Burns, Scottish Government (minute taker)
Gary Fairley, Director of Finance, Midlothian Council
Laura Caven, COSLA, has recently moved portfolio and Mike Callaghan will replace her on the RRTP Sub-Group moving forward.
Items and actions
1. Introductions, Minute and Actions
Minutes of the 17 August meeting were cleared.
1. RRTP (17/8)- Action 1- Updated Terms of Reference to be shared with HPSG.
- Updated Terms of Reference were shared with HPSG members via email ahead of the rescheduled meeting on 5 Nov 2021.
2. RRTP (17/8)- Action 3- Scottish Government (SG) to provide the RRTP Sub-Group with an update on Ending Homelessness Together funding.
- SG shared a breakdown of Ending Homelessness Together funding with the Group via eRDM Connect on 2 Nov 2021.
3. RRTP (17/8)- Action 4- Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) to provide a progress update to the RRTP Sub-Group.
- HIS provided an update which was shared with the Group via eRDM Connect on 18 Oct 2021.
4. RRTP (17/8)- Action 5- SG officials to have the National Care Service Consultation added to the HPSG agenda for September 2021.
- SG officials gave an update on the National Care Service Consultation at the rescheduled HPSG meeting on 5 November 2021.
1. 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 HIS.
- ALACHO have provided verbal approval. HIS to provide lines to the SG for communication to be issued to local authorities.
2. RRTP (17/8)- Action 2- SG will arrange a meeting of the RRTP Sub-Group in the autumn to discuss how RRTP funding is allocated.
- SG to provide an update as part of the SG update at agenda item two.
2. Scottish Government RRTP Update
RRTP- Activity and Spend Returns
All of Scotland’s 32 local authorities provided RRTP Activity and Spend returns, feedback has been provided to all local authorities. The information provided by local authorities will contribute to the first annual RRTP report which will be shared with the RRTP Sub-Group and then HPSG at the start of 2022.
Discussions took place with COSLA and the local authority Director of Finance member of the RRTP Sub-Group on RRTP funding. Local authorities had stated the need for continuity of funding. SG proposed funding for a two year period (2022/23 and 2023/24) with £8 million being distributed in both financial years. Funding proposals use the same formula as previous years (three year average of unintentional homelessness assessments), including a £50k funding floor which aims to protect smaller local authorities.
SG officials confirmed that they hoped to be in a position to notify local authorities with their allocations in December. The Chair welcomed the two year proposal, citing the Chartered Institute of Housing’s report on Rapid Rehousing which called for a departure from one year funding commitments, adding the recognised need to keep employment secure to retain staff to aid in the implementation of RRTPs.
Questions were raised about the need for discussion about local authority plans for mainstreaming services after the RRTP funding has come to an end, as this would encourage discussion with Health and Social Care Partnerships around their elements of funding.
Members added that it would be useful if any local authorities who have already developed a tool that can monitor the social return on investment of RRTPs could share this to aid in the conversations with Health and Social Care Partnerships about funding. The point was also made that the narrative should be less about investment in cash terms, and more about the human benefits of RRTPs, which is required for cultural change.
Action 1: SG to develop the agenda for the next RRTP Sub-Group meeting to allow for a ‘deeper dive’ into the RRTP annual report and to allow for further discussion about mainstreaming.
Scotland’s Homelessness Monitor 2021
The launch of the latest edition of Scotland’s Homelessness Monitor 2021 took place in October. The monitor focused on the impact of Covid-19 and the intense policy activity . The headlines of the report are that our approach to Rapid Rehousing and Housing First in Scotland is very positive.
Beth Watts of Heriot Watt University was the lead author, and has offered to provide an overview at an additional meeting of the RRTP Sub-Group on 29 November. The invitation is open to all local authority Housing Options Hub representatives.
Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group (HPSG)
The first meeting of the HPSG since the appointment of Shona Robison as Cabinet Secretary took place on 5 November. There has been a revision to the membership of HPSG, with five new members.
The agenda of the event included a discussion proposing the development of ‘Task and Finish’ groups to focus on specific areas of work. Updates were provided on the progress of the RRTP Sub-Group, Housing First, the National Care Service (NCS) Consultation, the Change Team and outcome monitoring of the EHT annual report.
The next meeting is due to take place early 2022.
Unsuitable Accommodation Order
SG officials are working with local authorities to assist those who are struggling to meet the Unsuitable Accommodation Order.
Mr Stewart’s correspondence to Integrated Joint Boards on mental health and homelessness
Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, wrote to the Chief Officers of Integrated Joint Boards to highlight the need for improved access to mental health services for those experiencing homelessness. A questionnaire was included asking for responses, which will be collated by Mental Health colleagues in the SG.
The Cabinet Secretary met with the Everyone Home Collective and discussed the work they are doing. A meeting has been arranged on 1 December between the Cabinet Secretary and Minister to discuss the NCS further.
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.
Seminars took place over two mornings in October, which saw 75 delegates attend, presentations by guest speakers included: Supporting digital inclusion within the homelessness sector in Scotland; Trans people and homelessness; Housing First for Youth; Autism and homelessness; Gambling Support Services; and Focus Ireland Project.
Common themes of discussion have included: Housing First; young people; SHORE; Trauma and other psychological issues; and temporary accommodation.
Tayside, Fife and Central
Most members reporting that homelessness applications are fairly steady and continue to be lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Discussions have taken place regarding: SHORE; domestic abuse pathways; working arrangements and office accessibility and temporary accommodation.
There is focus on the delivery of RRTP actions, particularly Housing First, activities relating to the private sector and work around mental health and substance misuse.
All members are rolling out the Tenant Grant Fund as a prevention tool. Good levels of applications reported by some members.
Local authority members have reported differing levels of homelessness presentations.
Discussions have taken place around: temporary accommodation; no recourse to public funds; Housing First; flipping tenancies; working closer with Alcohol and Drug partnerships; Tenant Grant Fund; and closer working with RSLs.
Local authorities are also discussing offices re-opening and service redesign.
North and Islands Hub
Discussions have focused on: implementation of the Tenant Grant Fund and best practice has been shared within the Hub; unintentional consequences of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order (UAO) and Local Connection in rural locations.
Chair added that the abolition of Local Connection was clarified at HPSG, there are outstanding concerns regarding MAPPA.
South West Hub
Discussions have focused on: temporary accommodation pressures; void processes; and Housing First. Two stock transfer local authorities have been discussing the challenges around flipping temporary accommodation into permanent tenancies and moving Housing First programmes forward, however agreements have been reached with RSLs in the areas to accommodate Housing First tenants.
A discussion is underway about how to host an event in the new year to involve partners and services users, in addition to training for Frontline Staff at Hub level.
Sub-Group members noted similarities across the country with pressures on temporary accommodation, and suggested if it would be worthwhile to have a meeting at operational level to share void processing best practice, temporary accommodation and the types of presentations which are common.
Action 2: SG to liaise with John Mills about the way forward following his meeting with Homelessness Unit colleagues.
3rd Sector Updates
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Work is underway with the SG to scope the need for work around residential rehab. This is interesting in relation to RRTP discussion due to the extent to which people are going into rehab whilst they are homeless, or before their homelessness is concluded. The project is in its early stages of scoping, a full business case will be prepared to HIS executive team in December.
The Reducing Harm, Improving Care project is underway in North Ayrshire, North and South Lanarkshire and Edinburgh. The work will look at standardising the approaches to Health and Social Care. This information has been used in HIS response to the National Care Service consultation, particularly around planning for care needs.
There is hope to put resource behind the learning network for RRTP, resource is currently being rerouted to aid NHS Covid recovery.
Homeless Network Scotland- Shared Spaces research
A qualitative research and a policy position were shared. It sets out the future role of supported housing as a response to homelessness. This is set in the context of Rapid Rehousing and wider national policy practice toward independent living in homely settings where people can build and live their lives.
A research advisory group was established, chaired by Heriot Watt University. It considered in what circumstances would shared and supported housing be used as a response to homelessness.
Alongside this, the interim evaluation of the Housing First Pathfinder programme lays out three specific circumstances where Housing First doesn’t work, which the research aims to explore: the person lacks capacity to understand a tenancy agreement; the person has health and social care support needs which exceed what can be met in a mainstream tenancy; and the person does not want Housing First.
Chair confirmed the research was positively received at ALACHO and HPSG agreed that Shared Spaces could be an appropriate focus for a ‘Task and Finish Group’.
Questions were raised whether shared and supported accommodation was viewed as a health and social care or housing service. Homeless Network Scotland confirmed that it would be a health and social care led response, which would require partnership working with housing and homelessness services.
Have continued questions about the impact of the National Care Service development. The Everyone Home Collective provided a nuanced response, asked that this be shared with the Group.
The impact of the end of the public health emergency on people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) continues to be an area for concern. There has been a significant increase in street begging: in Edinburgh there are 12 people who can be identified as regular ‘rough sleepers’, however there are between 80-100 people street begging, around 35% have NRPF.
Action 3: Everyone Home Collective’s response to the National Care Service consultation to be shared with the Group.
Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU)
HSEU were pleased to be involved with the Shared Spaces research. Work has been carried out with current providers of supported accommodation, to look at the findings of the research. Themes of discussion include current supported accommodation configuration and potential redesign, looking at the feasibility of en-suite bathrooms and where providers have already carried out redesign. Recognition that discussions are required at local level with HSCPs.
Scotland’s Housing Network (SHN)
Annual RRTP Benchmarked reports now available which have been shared with members. SHN have offered to facilitate sessions with Hubs.
The last homelessness forum took place in October, the main theme was women and homelessness. Representatives from Scottish Women’s Aid and Chartered Institute of Housing contributed. Colleagues from Fife presented good practice in their local authority.
Currently pulling together a review of SHORE practices for the SG which has revealed inconsistent approaches across Scotland. Also looking at local connection which is linked to MAPPA, this has revealed a more complex picture than homelessness and local connection, involving social work and Police.
Highlighted the first meeting of the PRS forum funded by the SG, will include speakers from South Ayrshire Council and Cyrenians, on 26 November.
45 delegates across 24 local authorities.
Heads of Housing are concerned about the extreme pressure on temporary accommodation in some parts of the country. Concerns also regarding void delays and shortages of materials and labour, although some Heads of Housing have reported some positive movement.
There has been discussion around the UAO and issues around local connection and MAPPA.
Provided an update on the recent RAG analysis- overall headline with regards to presentation, temporary accommodation and allocations was one of fragility. There is a need to build up more resilience around temporary accommodation. ALACHO have agreed to revisit these issues fortnightly with colleagues from COSLA, the regulator and others.
4. Access to the Private Rented Sector
Amy Hutton from Cyrenians provided an overview of the Private Rented Sector pilot which was funded by the SG and delivered by Cyrenians and Crisis. Main objectives of the project were to: test the viability of the PRS for those with higher support needs; to provide an onward option to those housed within hotels during the pandemic; and to make use of the more favourable letting conditions which resulted from the pandemic.
The project ran over 18 months and received 118 referrals, from which 25 tenancies commenced. 87% of tenants had multiple support needs, mainly due to mental and physical health conditions, less so people with addiction issues, likely due to affordability.
Key successes of the project included: rapid pathway to rehousing- 60 day average; tenancy sustainment of 88%; low level of ‘tenant generated’ concern/ complaints; and tenants felt positive about the scheme.
Key considerations included: PRS market already less favourable in some places; rent up front was a big barrier (especially when letting agents won’t accept bonds); affordability remains a significant issue however not limited to PRS; challenges of bond scheme- few tenants managed to save towards value of deposit, therefore exposes people to financial risk; and extent to which in built support is essential/ viable within this type of scheme, calls into question whether more widespread use of PRS is manageable with existing support provision services.
Questions were raised regarding economics and variation in rental values in the areas of the pilot. Cyrenians confirmed that affordability across the board was challenging, however added that the challenging market created a good opportunity to run the pilot to test where these challenges might also exist elsewhere.
Further questions were raised about how long term outcomes were going to be monitored. Cyrenians confirmed that they have committed to carrying out tracking with tenants via Crisis to allow a view of longer term outcomes.
5. RRTP Funded Staff Contracts
Fife staff had expressed concern about being employed on a temporary basis with 20% on temporary contracts. Agreement was reached with HR, finance and housing to consider this and as a result temporary staff contracts have been reduced to around 30 people. All Rapid Rehousing related positions were made permanent irrespective of funding commitments.
The Chair recognised the constraints which temporary contracts can have on the continuation and progression of Rapid Rehousing and vital services. The Chair offered to support members to approach these conversations in their own local authorities.
Cyrenians attested that short term contracts has been an issue for the third sector for a number of years. Their experience shows that longer term contracts results in greater engagement with training and fosters good working relations.
Scotland’s Housing Network suggested that since there seems to be systemic issues around recruitment and retention in the workforce then the Chartered Institute of Housing should be included in these conversations. Chair welcomed this suggestion, adding that this issue could limit the progress of rapid rehousing and other associated functions. The Chair suggested that this item should be revisited during the next meeting.
Action 4: Staff contracts to be included in the agenda for the next RRTP Sub-Group meeting.
6. Housing First
Housing First Monitoring
Quarterly monitoring of Housing First across Scotland began for all new tenancies started from 1 April 2021. First quarterly report published on 12 October. Gives a sense of the full pathway through from referral to Housing First to the tenancy starting, and shows some positive outcomes. Data gathered from quarter two shows that 22 local authorities are now delivering a Housing First programme and this will increase to 27 by 31 March 2022. As more data is gathered on protected characteristics and support information, more analysis will be possible for future reports.
Housing First Pathfinder Programme
Pathfinder programme has now passed its mid-point of the final year. From 1 October 2021, the service has now been mainstreamed by all local authorities. SG is working closely with HNS to ensure quality of data for the final evaluation of the Pathfinder Programme.
Homeless Network Scotland (HNS)
HNS highlighted the Housing First Check-Up webinar taking place on 25 November for local authorities and local partners. The webinar will cover the Check-up process and support available for all local authorities to scale up Housing First. The National Framework for Housing First has recently been updated to ensure it is a contemporary depositary for all information around Housing First, as well as a live status check on the conditions we need for Housing First to flourish. HNS continue to draw out learning from the Pathfinder areas as it draws into its final months to support the branching out of Housing First.
Rural Housing First Working Group
The Group continues to progress well. The Group met for a fourth time on 4 November 2021. Presentation was given by Professor Sarah Johnsen of Heriot Watt University on the interim evaluation of the Housing First Pathfinder Programme. Information provided on the challenges and lessons learned. This was useful for rural local authorities at the start of their Housing First journey. Local authorities continue to find it useful to share concerns, and to hear how others in the group have contended with these challenges. The Group has now been opened beyond local authority membership, and providers are welcome to join. Hope to discuss Shared Spaces at the next meeting.
Next meeting: 15 February 2022
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