- 26 Jan 2021
Attendees and apologies
Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
Sally Thomas - SFHA
Nina Ballantyne - CAB
John Blackwood - SAL
Catriona MacKean - SG
Naeem Bhatti – SG
Yvonne Gavan – SG
Margaret Irving – SG
Cllr Elena Whitham – COSLA
Items and actions
1. Welcome / Introductions / Apologies
The Minister welcomed everyone to the meeting.
2. Note of previous meeting / actions
The note of the previous meeting was agreed.
3. Updates from Resilience Groups
PRS Resilience Group
The group discussed the following:
- Focused on and agreed current terms of reference. Looked at plans for remainder of pandemic and beyond.
- Support for tenants. Updates on loan scheme. This is due to go live on 7 December. Make sure the correct information is getting to tenants.
- Landlord’s loan scheme has been relaunched.
- PRS landlords and letting agents are not seeing an increase in rent arrears and furlough extended to March which is good.
- Group had an update on DHPs. There is room for improvement to reach more people. Not the answer for everyone and group are looking at other options.
- Update on landlords and HMOs
- Tribunal discussion about cases being heard now. These are from the pre-pandemic period.
- Hope to have someone from the tribunal will speak to the group.
- Enforcement of evictions and getting changes into place for the festive period.
- Superintendent Ross from Police Scotland joined the group for a discussion about illegal evictions. Looking at training material for Police Scotland and get more info out there on illegal eviction and harassment.
Social Housing Resilience Group
Group discussed the following:
- Confirmed terms of reference and agreed to continue to meet every 2 weeks up until Christmas and will review the situation
- Intend to invite more HA to join the group to get a broader base
- Brexit and ongoing resilience issues
- Service delivery – updated the SFHA guide
- The letter from the Minister and Councillor Whitham which was issued last week. This was welcomed by the group.
- SHR return shows a small reduction in arrears
- Allocations are increasing
- There has been a fall in temporary and homelessness applications
- Regulator reports will continue until the end of March 2021
- Digital signups for tenancy agreements
- Financial resilience and importance of affordability and rent setting for next year and will have a Roundtable on this. Will involve SG and SHR.
- Community resilience – looking at food insecurity and fuel poverty. Will discuss with SG.
- Internal Market Bill – working with others to lobby Scottish Labour and Welsh Labour members. Plan is to have a roundtable in Westminster to explain the concerns of Scotland and Wales. Liaising with SG to see how we link in.
- Fire and smoke alarm standards
- Tenant Loan fund
- Ht2040 and new timescale for publication which fits well with HSPC
Local Authority Housing Resilience Group
Group discussed the following:
- Group have had 2 meetings since last ministerial meeting.
- DHPs - Shelter and CAS had pulled together a paper and will include comments from the group and will be shared with PRS group.
- PHS on data and intelligence needed for inclusive recovery. Considering holding a seminar or workshop
- Strategic framework – discussion and implications on workforce. Any additional guidance required.
- Community Wellbeing Board update
- Tenants Hardship loan
- NRPF pathways in terms of accommodation route map
- SHR data – members said the situation is still difficult
- Adult social care consultation closed 6 November and COSLA submitted a response which will be shared.
- IT systems
- Benefits of being able to link with the PRS to discuss overlapping issues.
The Minister noted the following:
- Interested to hear that Police Scotland had joined the PRS group for the meeting.
- Pleased to hear that the President of the Tribunal is willing to speak to the group.
- Good that furlough has been extended however it would be good it there was some longer term thinking and will continue to lobby on this.
- DHP – will continue to keep a watch on this to do the best for people.
- Winter food insecurity and fuel is an issue and we are looking closely at what we need to do. It would be good to get more money from treasury. We hope to finalise plans soon. There is a ministerial group chaired by DFM, John Swinney and ministers who deal with community aspects.
- Internal Markets Bill – pleased you are keeping a watch on this. Often find that cross benchers are more knowledgeable and worthwhile talking to them as well. And from a Scottish perspective suggest Lib Dem Jamie Kelly.
- Need to look at Brexit and internal market bill to try and mitigate the difficulties that might arise.
- Recognise that the current situation means a change of practice for the police
- NRTPF a problem but Scotland is doing better than elsewhere.
- Better news from regulator but that is not the feeling on the ground. Really interesting to find out if this is by geographical areas or if people are tired and not seeing the changes. He is finding a degree of optimism and will continue to talk to people on the front line.
- There is a backlog of people in temp accommodation that need to move on but recognise that some people may be asking for the impossible.
- He would appeal to management in local government or housing to give staff free reign to get things done. People have commented that removing bureaucracy helps get the best result for people.
- In discussion with Police Area commander he noted that some ASB issues would not have been reported previously. They are reacting quickly even to minor stuff so as not to exacerbate the situation.
- Other pressures include funding. Reducing bureaucracy means problems can be solved quicker and mean less call on funding. Making sure people have the right documentation take pressure of local authorities and puts it back with the UK government.
- CAS stats had been shared and it was useful to see the change in requests for help. Good if this data can be shared.
4. Frequency of resilience group meetings
Minister is content to leave the frequency of meetings up the groups and will continue the resilience chairs meetings on a fortnightly basis. LARG members will discuss as the next meeting. The members tend to meet up at similar meetings so may not need to meet as often and can use email chain if needed.
5. Housing System Policy Circle Update
Minister was very pleased at the work the HSPC have been doing on PfG and Ht2040. Delaying 2040 needed to ensure we capture all that we can and what has happened in the last 6 months. Situation is very different to what was there pre-Covid. Good that Ht2040 can capture the knowledge of Social policy circles.
Formulation of ending homelessness action plan would not have been as good without capturing lived experience.
Sally noted that the delay to Ht2040 fits better with HSPC. The work is more or less completed. The 9 circles have submitted reports to SRAB. Jon Sparkes and Sally are chairing a review group with 5 others from the SRAB. HSPC are meeting tomorrow for the final time. This has been a huge amount of work and time including SG officials to support the process. The report is due to be published mid-December. A response will be sought from SG. Voices of lived experience have been fundamental to the policy circle. Lived experience has been a clear thread and objective throughout the work which will be integrated into final report.
6. Any Other Business
The Minister referred to a letter written to Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers and requested no evictions are enforced where a property is located within an area under level 3 or 4 restrictions. Mr Stewart asked the letter be shared with the group. Action SG to follow up - Completed
The Minister thanked everyone for their time and noted that this was a very useful meeting.