Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle minutes: 9 July 2020

Minutes of the 9 July meeting of the Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle.

Attendees and apologies


  • Jon Sparkes, Crisis (Joint Chair)
  • Sally Thomas, Scottish Federation of Housing Association (Joint Chair)
  • Cllr Elena Whitham, COSLA - Political
  • Tom Barclay, JHPDG /Wheatley
  • David Bookbinder, Glasgow West of Scotland Forum
  • Craig Dalzell, Commonweal
  • Craig Spence, Rural and Island (Orkney Housing Association)
  • Nile Istephan, Rural and Island (Eildon Housing Association)
  • Hugh McClung, Regional Networks, RTO Representative.
  • Mark Stephens, University of Glasgow
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • John Mills, ALACHO, Fife Council
  • Anil Gupta, COSLA - Official
  • Cassandra Dove, SFHA
  • Naeem Bhatti, SG
  • Janine Kellett, SG
  • Margaret Irving, SG
  • Laura Dougan, SG
  • Marion Gibbs, SG
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Kuan Loh, SG


  • Katey Tabner, COSLA - Official
  • Shona Stephen, Queen Cross Housing Association (Member of Poverty and Inequality Commission)
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords
  • Angela O’Brien, SG
  • Catriona MacKean, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

  • Sally Thomas and Jon Sparkes introduced themselves and welcomed everyone to the meeting. 
  • Sally listed all the papers that had been sent out to the group.
  • Everyone on the call was asked to introduce themselves.
  • Apologies for the meeting were noted.
  • Sally referred members to the protocol document for the meeting.

2. Background and context

In early June, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People announced the creation of a Social Renewal Programme.  This includes an Advisory Board and nine ‘policy circles’ that have been established to develop policy and practical proposals for the Board to consider.  Housing is one of those circles. Board members have been drawn from a wide sector and to bring in the voice of lived experience.  The purpose of this group is to inform the work of the board. There are two stages to the process, one to be completed in July and the second phase taking place September to November to take longer view.

3. Terms of Reference

Jon introduced the draft paper on the terms of reference for discussion and agreement.

HSPC is not starting afresh, rather there is  pre-existing work which is to be reviewed, sense-checked and then add to it. In particular, there is the Housing 2040 initiative and the Ending Homelessness Together plan,

Following discussion with the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, four broad key themes were identified as being of particular importance, but this is not a comprehensive list:

  • The cost and affordability of housing
  • Home as the basis for healthy living and mixed communities
  • Attractiveness of homes and locations
  • The right funding, investment and planning mix

Key questions set out the programme of work.

  • What should go into the PfG, what can be done in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus crisis to ensure everyone has access to a fair housing system?
  • How can we ensure that everyone is able to access the housing system in a way that promotes equality, prosperity and social justice?
  • Looking forward what are the medium term and long-term vision for housing? This will include a review of the Housing 2040 principles.
  • How will we achieve the housing system we need??

During the group discussion the following points were made:

  • Learn from previous work, Covid-19, lived experience and evidence of how our work will promote equality.
  • Affordability is important – take account of findings from the social security group report from 2019.
  • Local Government as well as Scottish Government have a role in achieving the ambitions and the terms of references should reflect that.
  • Recognise the health and economic crisis is constantly changing and the remit should take account of this; and that this is an on-going, unfolding situation rather than a one-off shock to the system.
  • Take account of the good work that has been accelerated during the crisis as the norm going forward.
  • This is not just about housing but should connect economic policy and social renewal.
  • Important to connect with Housing to 2040 and ensure there is a commonality as the recovery process moves forward.

Jon thanked members for their input and confirmed that the Terms of Reference would be finalised based on comments received.

4. Existing information, resources and related groups/meetings

Sally introduced the paper on reports and reference stating that although it was not comprehensive, it does represent good work that has happened and is ongoing.

The group made a number of suggestions for inclusion including:

  • Two most recent annual reports from the Joint Housing Partners Delivery Group (JHPDG)
  • Information on the resilience groups particularly once the minutes are published
  • Infrastructure Commission
  • Economic Renewal Advisory Board
  • Audit Commission Report
  • Any new information on Housing to 2040 – such as emerging detailed proposals
  • Local authority and RSL Recovery Plans
  • Health and Social Care related research on evidence and impact
  • The Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) website
  • Research produced by Rural Housing Scotland for RIHAF considering investment and housing need in rural areas
  • Common Weal papers on Housing, energy/fuel poverty and building regs
  • Rural housing investment analysis -
  • Work of the tenement group and house condition report and assessments of home energy

5. Key priorities of the group

The following points were made:

  • Capture information from Heads of Housing to help inform PfG.
  • Learning to be captured from lived experience of people isolating, suffering from loneliness or  lacking in support.
  • Acknowledge the scale of the impact of the crisis on  health, social care and housing.
  • Important to capture the work going on in local areas, taking account of the recovery process and how that presents a different landscape for housing associations having to respond to allocations to homeless households.
  • Group conscious of the language being used to describe the new and better housing system going forward rather than going back to what existed previously.
  • Need to create a clear financial planning framework around housing delivery and fully understand the constraints and opportunities on housing capital and revenue investment. Ambitious housing investment will impact on economy, poverty and housing.  Useful to track the impact of investment in housing.
  • Use housing as a prism to make sure links are made across government and other organisations.
  • Potential pilot projects and programmes to measure impact on a longitudinal basis.
  • The group recognised that its remit is to provide ambitious proposals but to ensure they are workable, it is important to take a measure of self- regulation and sense check the constraints that will arise. 
  • The group will produce recommendations that are stretching and then agree to prioritise them. The recommendations in a broader sense showing the way forward for homelessness and housing.

6. Next Steps

Jon summarised the meeting saying it has been useful to get people’s thoughts and make connections. The next meeting will be a good opportunity to focus on lived experience and how to realise that in a useful manner as well as begin to explore the first of the four questions that have been set out in the scoping document as we consider housing and social housing in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Dates for the next meetings were circulated and invitations will be issued.  It was agreed that members will aim to attend rather than nominate a substitute as it is important to have continuity.

7. AOB

There was no other business.

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