- 8 Sep 2020
Attendees and apologies
- Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
- Cllr Elena Whitham – COSLA
- Katey Tabner - COSLA
- John Blackwood - SAL
- Sally Thomas - SFHA
- Catriona MacKean - SG
- Angela O’Brien - SG
- Yvonne Gavan – SG
- Margaret Irving – SG
- Naeem Bhatti – SG
- Nina Ballantyne - CAB
Items and actions
1. Welcome / Introductions / Apologies
The Minister welcomed everyone and apologies were noted.
2. Note of previous meeting / actions
The note of the previous meeting was agreed.
3. Updates from Resilience Groups
Social Housing Resilience Group
- Dashboard report from SHR showed that the increase in arrears has slowed, there is an increase in empty homes and temp homelessness but also an increase in lets. Difficult to identify specific trends as yet.
- SHR is consulting with social housing to help move on to the next stage of guidance.
- Restarting services as phase 3 progresses covering opening of offices, construction, voids and moving home. Looking at electronic tenancy agreements to avoid person to person signing. SG looking at best practice guidance.
- AHSP for the current year and next year. SG More Homes will attend resilience group in future.
- Discussion of what we need to plan for if there is a second wave of virus in autumn.
- Evictions – differentiate between Covid and non Covid arrears. Will do some work on this. Further discussion on future legislation in terms of evictions.
- Ongoing discussion covering the HARSAG recommendations.
- Preparing a paper on new models of care and support highlighting existing good practice and linking into reform of adult social care.
Local Authority Resilience Group
- Presentation from Empty Homes Partnership on Empty Homes Officers and how they would work in partnership to increase the number of properties available.
- COSLA is sending a letter to its members to update them on proposed work with EH partnership and will also include information on second hand house purchases.
- Group were asked to feedback on HARSAG 2 so it could be incorporated into the LG recovery plan.
- Not going to have another Community and Wellbeing board meeting until September.
- ALACHO RAG survey showed 6 LA had red status for temporary accommodation and a further 6 showing red for permanent accommodation. Currently there are 13800 in temporary accommodation.
PRS Resilience Group
- Discussion included how to sustain tenancies in PRS.
- Content of the Toolkit that is being sent out along with the Minister’s letter.
- Sustaining tenancies and avoiding homelessness by focussing on relationships between landlords and tenants.
- Guidance on protocols so they are fit for purpose.
Minister noted there was a lot happening and acknowledged that different geographical locations had different issues. Further discussion is needed to help prioritise different groups. Keen to see greater pace of addressing voids as we move onto phase 3. Some people are wary of letting people into their homes as are workers going into homes to carry out work.
Letter to PRS tenants is being finalised and will be with the Minister this week with a view to being issued next week.
Minister requested a copy of the recent ALACHO RAG survey.
Action – SG Officials to send RAG survey to Minister
Minister told the group that he had agreed in principle to accept the HARSAG 2 recommendations.
SFHA asked if there was any advantage in writing a letter to the economic sub- committee of cabinet to give them further information to encourage support of another substantive programme. The Minster had no objections and noted that he had been involved in discussions indicating that AHSP is so much more than providing homes for people. It sustains 12000 jobs, adds to carbon reduction programme and highlights the changes it can make to people’s lives.
SFHA said it would really helpful to have guidance or reassurance on flexibility in grant rates. Mr Stewart while happy to write to LAs but was reticent to issue further guidance as he felt it tended to lock things in and reduce flexibility and discretion.
COSLA said they were happy to share the letter to convenors and Community and Wellbeing Board about flexibility in AHSP. This was not guidance but reminding them of the opportunities.
COSLA noted that the Community and Wellbeing board were not meeting till September and it would be helpful if officials could look at their timescales for responses. The Minister offered to have an online chat with CAB to discuss housing and homelessness
Action - Officials to discuss with COSLA
The Minister extended this offer to SFHA members and the Minster suggested a couple of groups with a dozen or so participants.
Action - Officials and SFHA to discuss.
4. HARSAG Recommendations
The Minister has accepted in principle the HARSAG recommendations and would welcome initial feedback from the resilience groups recognising the need to build on partnerships that already exist.
SG officials have helped facilitate a conversation around the recommendations, particularly how to take high level recommendations and implement them.
COSLA agreed and noted that they would include a link to the HARSAG 2 recommendations in the letter they are sending out.
Mr Stewart noted that it was good to get a perspective from elected COSLA members but also from members who specifically deal with housing and homelessness.
Action – COSLA to seek view of wider members.
PRS group have looked at HARSAG 2 but not all actions apply to the PRS sector. Main issue is to continue with the no evictions policy. PRS landlords have in the past offered LA properties but very little take up which was disappointing and there is now a degree of negativity on this issue amongst some landlords. SAL confirmed that they have 14 branches and do have meetings in local areas. SAL take up any issues with the relevant LA direct. The Minister asked COSLA if it was possible to link these branches with EHOs
Action - COSLA to liaise with SAL and officials.
5. Phase 4 Easing and Routine Repairs
We are in stage 3 of the recovery plan at moment and in main seeing people obeying the rules put in place. Some people are reluctant to have people in their homes to do repairs.
RSL members have expressed concern about meeting performance indicators. However the Regulator is clear that where it is logged and recorded it will not affect overall performance. Generally situation is improving.
Action - COSLA will discuss with ALACHO feed back to the group.
SFHA noted that they are looking at how to redesign services including repairs taking account of new conditions, front line staff and tenants.
Mr Stewart noted that the construction industry coronavirus forum was a useful group and officials could ask Alan Wilson of CICV if he would participate in discussions if helpful.
6. Housing System Policy Circle
The third meeting of this group is taking place tomorrow and will continue on a weekly basis till mid-August. Two key issues:
- Incorporating lived experience into our work by using recent lived experience consultations and see if there are any gaps.
- Develop ideas for PfG and identify the key recommendations. Initial topics discussed so far include housing supply, climate change impacts and fuel poverty, developing resilient communities and beyond that there are issues around infrastructure and environment.
7. Co-ordination of Housing Sector Recovery Plan
The Minister noted that this group provides a good space to consider the work feeding in from other groups which will help update the housing sector recovery plan. Officials confirmed that a new version is likely to be available prior to the next meeting of this group.
8. Any Other Business
No other business. The Minister noted these are really useful discussions and is keen to attend meetings with the resilience groups to hear what they have to say.