Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle minutes: 27 August 2020

Minutes of the 27 August meeting of the Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle.

Attendees and apologies


  • Sally Thomas, Scottish Federation of Housing Association (Joint Chair)
  • Jon Sparkes, Crisis (Joint Chair)
  • Tom Barclay, JHPDG / Wheatley Group
  • Hugh McClung, Regional Networks RTO Representative
  • Cassandra Dove, SFHA
  • Shona Gorman, Regional Networks RTO Representative
  • Craig Spence, Rural and Island Housing Forum (Orkney Housing Association)
  • Cllr Elena Whitham, COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson
  • Katey Tabner, COSLA - Official
  • John Mills, ALACHO, Fife Council
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • David Bookbinder, Glasgow West of Scotland Forum
  • Craig Dalzell, Commonweal
  • Karen Stevenson, RIAS

SG Officials

  • Catriona MacKean
  • Naeem Bhatti
  • Angela O’Brien
  • Margaret Irving
  • Kuan Loh
  • Laura Dougan
  • Laura Carmichael
  • Amanda Callaghan


  • Nile Istephan, Rural and Island Housing Forum (Eildon Housing Association
  • Mark Stephens, University of Glasgow
  • Jo Ozga, Women’s Aid
  • Shona Stephen, Queen Cross Housing Association (Member of Poverty and Inequality Commission)
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords
  • Janine Kellett
  • Liz Geddes
  • Marion Gibbs

Items and actions

1. Welcome and review of last meeting

Sally opened the meeting by noting the death of Alan Ferguson, Director of SHARE, a key figure in the Scottish housing world which was announced this morning.

She welcomed everyone to the meeting and outlined the plan for today. There will be a note of the meeting and the comments will be recorded in the usual way. There have been several emails sent over the last few weeks updating members and requesting input into various pieces of work. Sally thanked those who had sent in contributions.

Both Jon and Sally acknowledged that the work had been at pace, moving quickly to respond to shifting deadlines.

2. Lived Experience next steps

Sally introduced this item, explaining that lived experience is an essential part of our work. The group have already had discussions on this and have mapped out how we will gather information using intermediary organisations but also using a more direct approach. Originally it had been hoped to include the lived experience work in the PfG recommendations but time restrictions meant that this has not been possible. However, it will be taken forward during the next stage. The lived experience work is based on 4 broad questions.

  • What are the biggest housing problems you have faced during the coronavirus pandemic?
  • How can the Scottish Government make the housing system work better for you in future?
  • In the longer-term what does a good housing system for everyone look like?
  • What actions do we need to make this happen and who should take them?

There have been useful offers of help from a number of organisations. There is also feedback on community listening work to get as much lived experience as possible.

The lived experience paper with questions will be recirculated and can include any final amendments. This can also be further amended by intermediaries to suit their stakeholder group.

Following the letter to PRS tenants from the Housing Minister, more than 20 people have contacted SG saying they would be willing to share their experiences

Action – circulate the lived experience questions for organisations and individuals for final comment by the group and the letter from the Housing Minister.

3. Programme for Government

SG confirmed that PfG will be announced on Tuesday 1 September and noted that it included a great deal on housing and social renewal.

Action - SG will send the group a summary of highlights once published.

Sally confirmed that the group will cover this at the next meeting and look at the recommendations to be taken forward out with PfG.

The chairs will finalise the PfG document taking account of the further contributions from members and circulate this after the meeting so that there is a final document to take forward as we discuss Ht2040.

Action – chairs to finalise PfG document and circulate.

Sally summarised some of the comments which had been received and will be incorporated into the final document.

Further discussion within the group covered the following:

  • A unified national multi agency approach seems a fundamental requirement to achieve such ambitious targets.
  • If we don’t get supply right we can’t tackle homelessness.
  • The order of recommendations is less important than recognising the equity of the building blocks needed.
  • Recent research in Fife shows that 83% of people need a flat or house but do not require further support. (Action – Fife to share report with the group)
  • Important to look at how we are investing in new additions to our housing stock. Parity of subsidy between RSL and Council housing. Look at land banking to alleviate the problem of obtaining sites for house building.
  • It is not just about "new" homes but maximising supply across all tenures, including refurbished homes, second hand purchase etc.
  • Take account of all geographies where there is evidenced need and demand.
  • Keen to see any introductory text setting out how the information will be used, noting the importance of interlinking the recommendations.
  • New standards for homes will also mean more energy efficient homes and will improve affordability of homes.
  • ALACHO is currently hosting HRA Business Plan Masterclasses to better understand the current impact from Covid and to examine the Local Authority Sector's capacity to fund new investment in new stock and the existing stock.  It would be good to join this up with the RSL sector.
  • All solutions to a sustainable system flows from adequate supply- right types/right place, including the role of regeneration.
  • Town Centre and Neighbourhood Regeneration must be part of improving places where people live.
  • £1 invested in affordable housing = times 2.5 in wider economic impact

SG acknowledged that all points are valid and are part of the conversation we are having about 2040. There remains a challenging financial situation across the public sector but adding more substance to the housing narrative will be really helpful to direct future housing supply.

4. Housing to 2040

Jon introduced the topic by saying that at the beginning of the process the group focused on PfG as this was the most urgent request. We will know by 1 September which recommendations have been taken up by PfG and which recommendations will be taken forward outside PfG. Now want to build on these recommendations and the longer term building blocks of the housing sector. Ht2040 is about where we can add value with tangible recommendations.

Members were asked to look at the Ht2040 principles document and email comments on the changes to any element of the 2040 principles, informed by experience of the last 5 months. They were also asked to distribute 5 votes in any combination between the fifteen 2040 principles, indicating where we should focus our attention to add value.

Action -Documents to be emailed to members – Jon Sparkes has actioned

Further discussion of Ht2040 covered the following points:

  • SG are hoping to say more about Housing for 2040 timescales soon as this is currently being discussed with Ministers.
  • SFHA noted that they had research by CaCHE/HACT on the social and economic impacts of social housing to be published in the next few weeks which will be a useful reference on Ht2040.
  • Some tenants are seeking improvements in social housing rather than mid- market rent or PRS. With each private sector investment LAs can secure a fraction to be used as socially rented housing rather than the LA securing the land and investing in provision of housing itself; n relying on section 75 is seen as a poor investment from LAs although it is agreed as a necessary provision. Ht2040 should focus on social housing rather than other types of housing.
  • ​Housing is about place, people and property. The volume of social housing should be increased but with more focus on place.
  • Placemaking is important as is having a range of tenants who are economically active but also those that aren’t.
  • Underpinned by finance but also a focus on vulnerable people. Going forward need a good balance of place, people and properties.
  • Need to maintain and increase good energy efficiency in existing stock not just concentrate on new build.
  • Important that the group provide direction for place making maps to ensure they tie in with planning and economic decisions. Local communities have a role to play.
  • CAS’s submission in original Ht2040 consultation noted that the right to housing should form the foundation of the approach to Ht2040 and was added as a final principle but should be more prominent. Need to take a holistic view and be joined up with National Performance Framework outcomes – working across government and Ministerial portfolios. Principles need to have measurable outcomes and route map should clearly set out how we can track and progress them. Enforcement and compliance also key.
  • Adequate home means different things to different people so have to ensure everyone means everyone.  
  • Address climate change within the housing agenda.

5. AoB and Close

The chairs thanked everyone for their contributions.

The group will be sent the following:


  • PfG recommendations and will get a final chance to review.
  • 2040 Questions and the original proforma
  • Lived experience Questionnaire for any amendments
  • A note of this meeting in due course

The next SRAB is on 10 September and the work that has been done around housing is to be featured so will hopefully get bigger profile in SRAB and more broadly in government. Chairs will update the group at the next meeting of HSPC

Next meeting will be Thursday 3 September 10.00 -11.00.

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