Attendees and apologies
Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
Sally Thomas - SFHA
Nina Ballantyne - CAB
John Blackwood - SAL
Cllr Elena Whitham – COSLA
Catriona MacKean - SG
Yvonne Gavan – SG
Margaret Irving – SG
There were no apologies.
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
Social Housing Resilience Group
Group discussed the following:
- Local protection levels and tiers.
- Activity to get up to date guidance out so essential services can continue to be provided.
- Community resilience –HA seen as community anchor organisations to distribute funds and food.
- Scottish Child payments and getting the information on this out to as many people as possible. Use HA working as CA get information out.
- Rents and affordability with view to the next financial year. Plans for a round table.
- SHR latest figures – nothing giving cause for concern, rental income stable, lettings increasing, lets to homelessness increasing, temporary accommodation stable but more vacant homes coming through so hope this improves.
- Internal Market Bill
- Call for evidence on Domestic Abuse Protection Bill closing on 4 December
- Minister’s letter about sheriff officers and evictions.
- Spending review
- Await with interest the details of the UK spending review
- The updated guidance for trades people under the new tier system should have gone out already. People should still be able to work following the guidance.
- Winter package of funding from government. If consequential money is correct then it would be good to get more money from the Treasury.
Local Authority Housing Resilience Group
- Councillor Whittam noted that some services were going back to emergency measures in absence of other guidance.
- Minister asked Catriona to make sure the recent SG guidance on trades people etc. has been sent out to all LA so everyone has the same information.
- The Minister had sent information to Cllr Whittam so asked Catriona to check with his office.
- Cllr Whittam said they wanted to ensure the workforce were on board with the measures and suggested sending out an updated joint letter from her and the Minister. Mr Stewart was happy to do this.
- Mr Stewart noted that he has a meeting with the Construction Leadership Forum shortly which include the unions.
Action: Catriona to arrange another letter and include a request for people to check the website for updated information.
- Cllr Whittam noted it would be good to work collaboratively on this to get the right information out.
- There was no meeting of the group last week but there was a lot of correspondence.
- Changes between levels in terms of entering people’s homes to do repairs.
- Need to work together on guidance to ensure the workforce is getting the right message.
- Test and protect app – making sure this takes account of trades people entering homes and align to social care so no unnecessary isolating results. The Minister agreed this should be straightforward and there should be no doubt about these things. COSLA are happy to work with SG on guidance
- Other points were the UAO working group met last week and winter planning is also being discussed.
The Minister noted the following:
- In terms of homelessness the Edinburgh Reception Centre has opened earlier. The Glasgow centre is expected to open on 1 December. Currently looking at the entire winter scheme and there should be an announcement within the next week.
- The Minister asked those on the call to feedback on any local issues of rough sleeping. He was aware of some issues particularly in Edinburgh and he has spoken to ECC about this. In general numbers are low but would welcome feedback.
- He also asked the group to feedback any information they were picking up on the UAO.
PRS Resilience Group
Group met on Monday and discussed the following:
- Shared the letter and members welcomed the depth and breadth of the response. People have been asked to feedback before the next meeting. Especially on DHPs and hope that the PRS can move this forward.
- Discussion on energy efficiency and regulations in the New Year. Both landlord and tenants need to be well informed and everyone well supported.
- John noted that he had informed the group that he is stepping down from the group in the New Year.
The Minister noted
- The work of the group has been very positive and hopes John will keep links going even if he is not part of the group as his input has been extremely useful.
- He was glad the group thought the letter was comprehensive. In some areas SG have gone as far as they can and there still work that the UK government need to address.
- He confirmed that the Tenant Hardship Fund will be launched on Monday 7th December
- DHP – He noted we are in discussion with council partners. He reassured the group that the DHP budget has not been used up yet.
- Elena will check with finance colleagues but was not aware this was an issue. It has been good to work with SG on DHP along with CAS, shelter and others involved.
- Nina noted that DHP has been working well in some places and keen to see working better in other areas. Hope to prevent as many as possible ending up at the tribunal.
Action: Catriona to check with Merlin Kemp on the queries raised about the DHP budget.
Sally raised the question of subsidy levels and any update on these discussion
Mr Stewart noted the request but said there in no capacity at present to carry out work on this. He is aware that HA are planning for next year and HA should plan as things stand at the moment. It is important there are resources in terms of money and officials to ensure this work is done properly. The Minister recognised that this was not the answer they were looking for but noted that he has tried to give comfort in other areas and last week he announced the continuation of rural and islands funds.
Action: Catriona will speak to Brad Gilbert in More Homes Division noting that this has been raised.
4. Housing System Policy Circle Update
Sally Thomas updated the group. The editorial subgroup is pulling the report together. The deadline is 16 December but it is not clear yet if this will be the final report or if this will be presented in January. They are meeting the Cabinet Secretaries tomorrow and later with COSLA. It is important that the report is ambitious and has aspirations but also is realistic and achievable and can be costed.
5. Any Other Business
The Minister noted that he had a virtual meeting with the Wee Housing Company in Cumnock and was really impressed with their work.
The Minister thanked John for his input to the work of this and the PRS group and hoped that if time allowed he may come back in future.
John said he enjoyed being involved and will continue to be in touch with officials.