- 23 Sep 2020
Attendees and apologies
- Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
- Katey Tabner - COSLA
- John Blackwood - SAL
- Lorna Wilson - SFHA
- Catriona MacKean - SG
- Nina Ballantyne - CAB
- Angela O’Brien - SG
- Charlotte McHaffie – SG
- Margaret Irving – SG
- Sally Thomas - SFHA
- Cllr Elena Whitham – COSLA
- Naeem Bhatti – SG
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
Group discussed the following:
- Rent and moratorium on evictions. Growing concern regarding tenants who were in arrears before Covid and are using the pandemic to avoid engaging with landlords over debts of £14 -£16k. Not wanting to evict and working with them where we can. Worried about longer term issues if non-payment continues.
- Maximise contributions to keep people out of hospital. In particular using step up step down models. There are a number of examples and members are keen to work together on this.
- SFHA are finalising a date for the Minister to meet with housing assoc members.
Local Authority Housing Resilience Group
Group discussed the following:
- Void processing is a standing issue but feedback from councils indicate things ae slowly getting back to normal. A couple of councils were saying they were now up to 60% of original volumes. Issues arose from resistance from tenants and digitalising the allocation processes.
- A meeting has been arranged for the Minister on 18 August to discuss HARSAG with the Community Wellbeing Board and Housing convenors.
- Questionnaire was sent out about allocations and generally councils are managing restarting process and prioritising external repairs. Pressures are emerging about pre visits and how this will be managed.
- Extension to the Coronavirus Act.
PRS Resilience Group
The group discussed the following:
- Tenancy sustainment proposals and have about 14 -16 proposals for the remainder of the pandemic and period afterwards.
- The PRS tenancy letter gone out. Good to reach out to people directly who would not normally be contacted by SG.
The Minister noted the following:
- Glad PRS letter has proven to be valuable.
- At FMQ today we announced that we will extend no evictions policy for those affected by Covid subject to parliament voting in favour.
- Recognise that landlords will have difficulty getting rent off some people and continuing communication is vital. Debts of £14k - £16k are not the result of the pandemic but existed long before. SFHA confirmed HA are continuing to work with the small number of individuals who are using the pandemic as an excuse not to engage with the landlord.
- In response to evictions resulting from ASB and the extension of the Act, we will look carefully at what needs to happen. We need to provide evidence to parliament on how to take this forward and recognise the difficulties when people think they are immune to any action. We will keep people up to speed on what will be extended.
- In response to the stats from CAS on ASB, the Minister confirmed that he is aware of the increase in tensions based on the feedback from his own constituency.
- The LA group had noted that while ASB accounted for a small percentage it was impacting on the ability to allocate neighbouring void properties. They are happy to go back and ask for evidence from members. Mr Stewart agreed this would be useful.
4. Housing System Policy Circle Update
- SG confirmed that recommendations for PfG have been made by HSPC. These included ending homelessness, affordable homes and successful communities with a number of priorities within these headings.
- The HSPC will now influence longer term actions especially housing to 2040 and shaping future policy.
- Next meeting on 27 August and will shape next phase of the work.
- Mr Stewart recognised the efforts of the people involved.
5. Housing Sector Recovery Plan
The Minister noted that a detailed position paper has been produced and asked the group for comments. These included:
- It is a comprehensive document and it is good to see progress made to date.
- Useful to see all the work in one place
- PRS group have not shared their comments yet but have similar outcomes. The position paper is a really useful representation of the work done.
- PRS group have also done a lot of work on cross referencing
It was agreed that the paper could be shared with the resilience groups with recognition that it is a work in progress.
6. Any Other Business
What evidence has been gathered to inform the extension of powers and what shape with this take?
- We have looked at the communications we have had from SAL and others, looking at data, rent returns and arrears returns sent to SHR as well as analytical work in SG. The information from CAS has been very useful. SAL are happy to gather data from the PRS sector and share information gathered from the SAL advice line. SAL agreed to discuss with SG officials.
The next meeting will be in 2 weeks.