Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle minutes: 1 October 2020

Minutes of the Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle meeting on 1 October 2020.

Attendees and apologies


Sally Thomas (Joint Chair)

Jon Sparkes (Joint Chair)

Cllr Elena Whitham

Laura Caven

Craig Dalzell

Marsha Scott

Mark Stephens

Nina Ballantyne

Tony Cain

David Bookbinder

Catriona MacKean, SG

Naeem Bhatti, SG

Laura Dougan, SG

Kuan Loh, SG

Angela O’Brien, SG

Margaret Irving, SG


Shona Gorman

Tom Barclay

John Mills

Hugh McClung

Cassandra Dove

Nile Istephan

Shirley Laing

Items and actions

1. Welcome and review of last meeting 24 September

Sally Thomas summarised the work of the group and where it fits with the work of SRAB. The minutes of the previous meeting were discussed. The minutes were agreed subject to an amendment.

Amend previous minutes to reflect the lived experience and women living with domestic abuse.

2. Lived experience – update on submissions

Work is ongoing. Members were referred to the response received from CIH to use as an example. The group were reminded that the deadline is 16 October and were asked to gather as much information as possible from their own groups to inform the work. It was noted that this is the same date as the short-term lets consultation closes in case any of the lived experience material is relevant.

In addition to the questionnaire responses we are looking in detail at the research list to demonstrate that we are taking account of a lot of existing evidence material. Officials will interrogate evidence and then review. The research list has been updated to include research from Engender and on gypsy travellers.

Comments included:

  • Women subject to domestic abuse are a critical population.
  • Covid will impact on women’s ability to secure employment. 

3. Equalities

Following the SG presentation at the last meeting it was agreed that preparing a lived example on AHSP would help show how this would work.

SG confirmed this is in hand. It will be useful for work on Housing to 2040 and the intention is to bring the worked example back for the next meeting. Anyone who wants to help or contribute were asked to get in touch.

SG will prepare lived example on AHSP would help show how this would work.

4. Housing to 2040 and Social Renewal - UN Guidelines for the Implementation of the Right to Adequate Housing

Jon Sparkes noted that over the last few weeks the group have identified Principle 15 as the overarching principle for this work.  While keen to have a right to a home it is worth reflecting what would be entailed in a recommendation. It was noted that the UN rapporteur has indicated that she is happy to talk about her work to support adequate housing and this will be arranged for a future meeting.

Jon to follow up arrangements for UN rapporteur to speak to the group.

There are 16 UN guidelines for the implementation of the right to adequate housing.

G1 - A definition is teased out – makes clear the wide ranging definition used. Not just a roof over our head but a right to security, dignity etc.

G2 – Has to be more than a broad aspiration but appropriate targets and intervention with milestones to fulfil this.

G3 – Participation – lived experienced to influence and remove barriers to aspirations. Equal participation to include equality groups.

G4 – Planning, land regulation and broader policies need to support the right to adequate housing

Some are under the control of Scottish Government and some the UK Government.

G5 – Homelessness and Housing First approach - absolute baseline there shouldn’t be any homelessness.

G6 –Evictions must not render people homelessness. Doesn’t say evictions shouldn’t happen.

G7 – What happens when resident’s homes are upgraded?

G8 - Mixed communities and improving equality and inclusiveness to avoid discrimination.

G9 - Gender equality

G10 - Migration policies should not compromise people right to housing with a state territory.

G11 - Local, national and state governments interact and collaboration needs to be built into regulations.

G12 -Complex state regulation of business and not comprising the right to adequate housing.

G13 – Climate change must interlock with right to adequate home.

G14 – Engage in international cooperation to ensure we achieve the right to adequate housing.

G15 – Monitoring every aspect to ensure accountability.

G16 – Access to legal support

The full version of the UN Guidelines that Jon shared can also be found here:

The group were asked for reflections on the 16 guidance points. Comments from the group included:

  • Circle is about building a right to an adequate home. Need to bring to life how this would be achieved.
  • It would be interesting to link the policy work of the circle with the government’s commitment to incorporating CEDAW in Scottish law.
  • Guideline 1 links well with the concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • ​SG were asked to comment on the intention to bring a wide-ranging Human Rights Bill to parliament as it was referred to in relation to the ask for a Right to Food Bill. SG responded saying the work on right to an adequate home will in turn inform that Human Rights Bill development.
  • Some countries have housing in their constitution but have terrible housing. What does a statement to a right actually mean? Rather than aspiration it needs to be backed up. Need to be aware of unintended consequences of housing policies e.g. if you over regulate mortgage finance then no one would lend any money. Changes have to be enforceable and meaningful.
  • Lot of housing policy is aspiration. Use right to an adequate home rather than Housing to 2040.
  • Will the definition of "adequate"  be redefined in light of the climate emergency? Should that mean a house that is not zero-carbon or risks putting someone in fuel poverty due to inadequate heating is not "adequate"?
  • ​Have an official definition of what an affordable rent is, particularly to inform how many people are living in a PRS home which may be physically adequate but potentially unaffordable for people below a certain income.​
  • Consider support for a meaningful definition of affordability across both AHSP and ambitions for affordability in the owner-occupier sector and PRS.
  • UN implementation measures cross over with HT2040 so use UN measures.
  • Unintended consequences in UK as a whole. Consider the pandemic and SG work so that we do not return to pre-pandemic situation.
  • Need to be mindful of the risk that focusing too much on details will simply divert effort from the practical task of moving forward.
  • It is about a process of improvement. We don’t want to spend too much time discussing definitions when 36% of tenants spending more than 30% of their income on rent.
  • There is a failure in human rights across all income frames. Worth noting most people with a disability live in their own homes.
  • Human rights allows all different spheres to intersect. Remove silos to allow this to happen.
  • SG asked how it can support the group to take the next steps.
  • Fast track option is socialising aspiration in all its complexity and as part of Human Rights Bill in Scotland. Slow track – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has taken 8 years but this is quick. Right to adequate housing was mentioned in 1950s in UN Human Rights convention.
  • PFG statement incorporates Right to Housing into law.  Important to pick out what is important and what is urgent and assess where we are against each of the issues.
  • SG noted that the reality of 20 year housing strategy is a long time - 5 parliaments. Having set of principles is what we are looking for.
  • Housing Associations need to have a 30 year cycle for longer term planning.
  • ​Look at CRC and CEDAW as opportunities to build up both legislation and implementation.
  • Next steps are mapping implementation measures against 2040 principles - where they match up, where they don't, any gaps; evaluating where we are on all the measures; which measures we can make practical changes soonest, and prioritising them in the next parliament.

5. Next steps

The chairs thanked the group for their input into the discussion and will pick up the points they have made. Important to acknowledge that is the longer term ambitions over 20/40 years but also what can we do now. Continue to work with Housing to 2040 and government to make this happen.

6. AoB, next meetings and close

There was no other business.

Back to top