Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle minutes: 24 September 2020

Minutes of the 24 September meeting of the Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle.

Attendees and apologies


  • Sally Thomas (Joint Chair)
  • Cllr Elena Whitham
  • Laura Cavan
  • Shona Gorman
  • Cassandra Dove
  • David Bookbinder
  • Marsha Scott
  • Tony Cain
  • Ashleigh Simpson
  • Nina Ballantyne
  • Karen Stevenson
  • Catriona MacKean, SG
  • Naeem Bhatti, SG
  • Kuan Loh, SG
  • Margaret Irving, SG
  • Liz Geddes, SG
  • Elaine Bell, SG


  • Jon Sparkes (Joint Chair)
  • Angela O’Brien, SG
  • John Mills
  • Shirley Laing, SG
  • Tom Barclay
  • Craig Spence
  • Hugh McClung
  • Mark Stephens

Items and actions

1. Welcome and review of last meeting

Everyone was welcomed to the meeting. The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

2. Social Renewal Advisory Board meeting

The Chair provided feedback from the SRAB meeting on 10 September and noted that the work of this group is well ahead of the other circles. A note of the discussion has been circulated. Comments from members included:

  • This circle is well advanced in terms of our output compared to others.
  • Would be good if some quick actions could be taken to the Community Wellbeing Board in November.
  • Despite a good presentation there is still work to do to raise the profile of housing to ensure the Community and Place circle and others understand where housing fits into the plan.
  • Work done by this group is very impressive and we have made specific recommendations about short term actions.
  • Covid continuing longer than anticipated and it will be difficult to sustain weekly meetings of this group.
  • The immediate deadline in terms of the SRAB is November. The work on Housing to 2040 is our immediate work programme. 
  • Capacity is an issue as the long term work will address some of the short term needs so needs to progress rather than put on hold.
  • Raise prioritising allocations for women and children in refuge, to help unblock the system.

3. Lived experience questionnaire updates from members

Group considered the update on lived experience. Comments included:

  • Concerned that the questionnaire has not been developed to allow women subject to domestic violence or children to respond. There needs to be some concrete measures to fill that gap.
  • Members were reminded there were two questionnaire forms, one which enables organisations to feed back as well as an individual form.
  • There is a lot of information already out there so important that we use this which will help with credibility. 
  • Although the numbers are small so far, pleased with the response from PRS tenants without being filtered through any other intermediaries.
  • ​Consider sending the questionnaire out through the Tenancy Deposit Scheme as this goes direct to individuals.
  • Consider the material that is available on the Gypsy/traveller community produced recently through COSLA, community members and the SG.
  • ​Make sure those who have contributed are able to see how their experience informs our work.
  • SG to consider resources to investigate the existing lived experience data.
  • Members were asked to work within their organisations to feedback by 16 October.

Action – Look at possibility of using Tenancy Deposit Scheme to share questionnaire.

Action – SG to look at resources to interrogate existing information.

4. Equalities

The group had a presentation from SG on Equalities.

Previously agreed that the housing system is a source of inequality and our proposals need to address these inequalities. Now looking to test the emerging proposals to identify any changes or additional proposals required to meet this aim. The intention is to pull out phase 1 recommendations,  how and whether they can be developed further to directly address equalities considerations, particularly to address housing disadvantage and inequality as the Phase 2 work develops and move forward with 2040 work.

The group were asked to consider the following questions:

  • Are there other recommendations the group would identify as particularly beneficial to apply these additional equality lenses?
  • Additionally – what factors of the housing experiences of disadvantaged groups do we need to consider further to support additional recommendations?
  • What further information or context would the group like to have to support these considerations?

Comments from the group were as follows:

  • There are existing examples of lived experience so we aren't starting from scratch.
  • There is a large volume of evidence from Engender regarding women and the housing system so this can inform this group's work.
  • ​CAS is keen on affordability definitions being related to income.
  • ​Consider to what extent we think the existing delivery of new homes is reducing inequality.
  • Need to ensure we include all protected characteristics relevant to housing system.
  • Fuel Poverty is a factor of lived experience and the measures for new and existing social housing are important.
  • The solution is not clear cut with positive or negative. It would be good to see a worked example from officials.
  • Look at maximising housing availability, then be explicit about the equalities consideration under this heading e.g. how many women own housing, women in poverty and access to housing.
  • Would like to see an analysis of AHSP. The problem with the lack of definition means that some of the AHSP delivery won't necessarily help with reducing (particularly economic) inequality either, never mind all the other developments. 
  • The overall picture is new housing entrenching disadvantage and discrimination so we have to be aware of this in our response.
  • The significance of the outcome data will be that it points the way to redistribution strategies. Much depends on what we mean by redistribution and how we understand the purpose of social housing in particular and the wider policy objectives more generally.

​Consider sharing a worked example with SRAB so every group is following the same format. SG confirmed that they have been working with SRAB secretariat so they are aware of the HSPC approach.

Action - SG will prepare a worked example using the question about AHSP and the wider question about new housing.

Action – Presentation slides to be circulated to the group.

5. Housing to 2040 and Social Renewal

Chair introduced the draft diagram which sets out how our work and the Social Renewal work connect. The intention is to frame our 2040 recommendations in terms of (i) what we think needs to be done, (ii) what doing this would contribute to the wider Social Renewal work and to other Policy Circles, (iii) what we would need to see other Policy Circles doing to reinforce the achievement of our recommendation.

Comments from the group:

  • Local Government will be tasked with delivering lot of work on Housing to 2040 and this will need to be agreed by council leaders.
  • Additional resource is needed within LAs to plan and coordinate delivery. E.g. mapping need, mapping HMOs, empty homes etc. This could form part of our recommendations to make the change on the ground we progress.
  • Need to take everyone forward together and breakdown silos, this is an opportunity to create a platform for change.
  • What do we want other policy circles to do to help or what do we want them to know?
  • Alignment with other policy circles is crucial so they can see how Housing to 2040 fits with their work and make sure it intersects.
  • Those at a disadvantage in the housing circle will also face difficulties accessing place based support and difficulties in other circles. Age, income, ethnicity, disability are all equalities areas that all the circles need to look at. This group has made assumptions about the importance of housing and homelessness but other circles are not working from those assumptions.

Jon has suggested that it might be helpful to have a discussion on housing as a human right and invite the author of the UN report to speak to the group.

SG noted that the right to an adequate home is one of the Housing to 2040 principles.

There would be value in having a discussion with the previous UN Rapporteur on Housing in a Scottish context which may help identify challenges for us.

Action – Send web links to information on UN Right to Housing.

Action for next meeting is to bring recommendations from other groups so we can start matching and mapping.

6.  AoB, next meetings and close

The Tenant Hardship Fund Consultation questions have been circulated to the group. Members were encouraged to put in a submission on behalf of their own organisations. At a meeting with the Housing Minister yesterday he was keen to make this fund work and minimise potentially negative aspects.

Action - Blueprint for Local Government

Back to top