- 23 Sep 2020
Attendees and apologies
- Kevin Stewart - Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
- Katey Tabner - COSLA
- Sally Thomas - SFHA
- Cllr Elena Whitham – COSLA
- John Blackwood - SAL
- Nina Ballantyne - CAB
- Catriona MacKean - SG
- Naeem Bhatti – SG
- Angela O’Brien - SG
- Yvonne Gavan – SG
- Margaret Irving – SG
Items and actions
1. Welcome / Introductions / Apologies
The Minister welcomed everyone.
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:
- The group had a presentation on the planned advice note on fire safety post Grenfell. Noted that submissions on this were due by 4 September. Looking forward to best practice guidance being issued.
- The most recent SHR data showed an increase in arrears across the sector and also an increase in lets for homelessness and temporary accommodation.
- Framework for decision making
- Scenario planning on local lockdowns.
- Sector recovery plan.
- Intended extension of Coronavirus Act – Minister has been sent a letter from Elena Whitham today setting out grounds for ASB to move back to one month notice, funding for tenants such as DHP, SWF or something similar and looking at national joint messaging on rent payments.
- Next meeting will include presentations from those who received money from the supporting communities’ fund.
Local Authority Housing Resilience Group
Group discussed the following:
- Local scenario planning. Members heard from Aberdeen and Perth and Kinross Councils following the Aberdeen local lockdown and the factory outbreak of Covid-19. Both were confident that allocations would continue and overall response was working well.
- Guidance about HMO’s in particular NRPF and asylum seekers.
- SHR data, encouraging to see allocations moving and a decrease on moves into temporary accommodation.
Councillor Whitham confirmed that a letter had been sent to the Minister covering among other things ASB in the context of the emergency eviction provisions and response to local lockdowns ensuring the housing sector is resilient.
PRS Resilience Group
The group discussed the following:
- Finalised proposals from the group which were sent to the Minister. Keen to get a steer of where to go next.
- Discussion about DHPs availability for PRS sector tenants. Consider what lessons there may be especially when furlough ends and there are further redundancies.
- Information from Police Scotland to ensure people are aware of what is legal and what is not when it comes to evictions.
SAL provided information on their advice line enquiries noting an increase in ASB and would be interested in any plans to address ASB in legislation.
The Minister noted the following:
Local lockdown in Aberdeen means reverting back to previous guidance. Issues like a lack of local trades people may be due to a lack of awareness about what can still be done while on lockdown.
The factory in Tayside which has recorded incidences of Covid-19, employees have been told to self-isolate which is different from the Aberdeen situation. Rather than housing the main issue identified there has been communication given the many different languages spoken by staff. From a public health response we know we need to communicate well.
NRPF and asylum seekers – HMO’s have been highlighted. We are not responsible for asylum seekers accommodation or situation. This is a UK government issue.
NRPF – Aware that this is included in the document submitted by the PRS resilience group and while SG will seek to do all that it can, we are not in a position to provide funding as this would not be legal. This is a UK issue and concerns should be raised with the UK government. It was confirmed this topic had been explored by SG and options are limited. It was agreed that it would be helpful to share this with the resilience groups to ensure they are aware of the work already done. The Minister asked that SG correspondence with the UK government is shared.
Action – SG officials to provide relevant correspondence from Scottish Government sent to UK government on the subject of funding for NRPF and asylum seekers.
Pleased that the groups are discussing the post Grenfell actions. The Minister noted he will be appearing at committee next Friday.
Coronavirus Act – aware of the issues around ASB and criminality and happy to receive evidence and communications on this to ensure we get it right. Acknowledge that this was raised in the letter from COSLA and the impact that it has on streets and communities. Officials confirmed the deadline was very tight and any input would be needed now.
The Minister noted that he was aware the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy group had written to the UK government and encouraged other groups to do likewise to raise awareness of funding issues.
SFHA noted that they could link with national housing federations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to help put pressure on the UK government. Agreed that it would be very helpful to see what SG sent to the UK government.
The Minister noted that there had been good uptake of DHPs and SWF.
PRS group noted that they do not often get information on these issues and the Minister asked that the quarterly statistics are shared with the resilience groups.
Action - Officials to circulate figures on these funds to show the level of uptake.
COSLA noted that there appeared to be discrepancy on how the rules on DHPs are applied in each local authority.
The Minister noted that as a discretionary fund and up to each LA to provide what suits each individual. Some LAs have added to DHPs from their own budget. It is important that there is discretion and that the over use of guidance does not remove that level of discretion.
Recognition that some LAs continue to work in silos and are not working across homelessness, welfare rights etc. so the provision is fragmented and does not work as well. Discretion varies depending on the processing official as well as LA.
PRS group noted that Shelter said that DHP uptake was only 3% up on last year.
COSLA noted that responses from councils indicate these reasons for different rates of DHP and SWF were complex and wide ranging.
The Minister and Councillor Whitham agreed to have a separate conversation about this topic.
4. Housing System Policy Circle Update
Sally Thomas, joint chair of the HSPC, provided an update
- The next meeting of the group takes place tomorrow.
- Group have submitted recommendations to PFG.
- They were now reviewing the recommendations and identifying which they should take forward into housing to 2040 principles.
- Lived experience voices will be taken into account as part of the process.
- Housing is to be the focus of the next meeting of SRAB on 10 September
5. Any Other Business
There was no other business.
The next meeting will in two weeks.