Social Renewal Housing System Policy Circle minutes: 3 September 2020

Minutes of the 3 September 2020 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
  • 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
  • Laura Cavan, COSLA - Official
  • Marsha Scott, Women’s Aid
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Craig Dalzell, Commonweal
  • Nile Istephan, Rural and Island Housing Forum (Eildon Housing Association
  • Mark Stephens, University of Glasgow
  • Shona Stephen, Queen Cross Housing Association (Member of Poverty and Inequality Commission)
  • Karen Stevenson, RIAS
  • Ashley Simpson, Crisis

SG Officials

  • Naeem Bhatti
  • Angela O’Brien
  • Margaret Irving
  • Kuan Loh
  • Laura Carmichael
  • Amanda Callaghan
  • Liz Geddes


  • Hugh McClung, Regional Networks RTO Representative
  • David Bookbinder, Glasgow West of Scotland Forum
  • Laura Dougan, SG
  • Catriona MacKean, SG
  • John Mills, ALACHO, Fife Council
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords
  • Janine Kellett, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome and review of last meeting – agree note

Sally welcomed everyone to the meeting. She acknowledged that a lot of work has been done since the last meeting. She outlined what she planned to cover during this meeting. There were no comments on the note of last meeting.

2. Programme for Government – review relevant commitments in the PfG

The PfG was announced on Tuesday and included many housing related issues and ambitions. Some obvious and others related to areas such as food insecurity, financial security, community etc. It was clear that they had taken account of the views of the HSPC, SRAB and HARSAG. Overall it is cautious about finance and long term planning.

Comments from the group:

  • Concern about a national care system. This needs to be clarified soon as the longer there is doubt, the more it will impact on providers business planning.
  • Need to recognise the role of the third sector in delivery of care. There is a concern that this might be missed in the move to a national care sector.
  • Extra funding for ASB, hardship fund and DHP is welcome. Many of the commitments are linked to Housing to 2040. Affordable Housing Supply commitment does not go beyond the next year.
  • Pleased to see that equalities have been identified. Need to make sure they intersect with each other especially in relation to the housing system.
  • PfG- Important for us to recognise that this is only a 1 year programme and really can’t say more about money until the UK CSR position and Barnett is clarified.  
  • Need to better reflect structural inequalities in all the coming conversations about the recommendations. There is a need to recognise the disproportionate impact on children and women of poverty generally and COVID in particular.
  • The tenant hardship loan arose from discussions about how tenants could be helped.
  • CAS were pleased to see the slightly longer term commitments around short-term lets, purpose-built student accommodation, confirmation of the emergency powers extension and the increase to DHPs.  Not convinced by the £10m loan fund for tenants. Although it could help a small number of people, we don't see moving debt around as a way to effectively address arrears. 
  • Is the fund going to be administered by LG or the third sector? Important to lend responsibly. Recognise that some people may be excluded particularly women who may be disproportionately affected.
  • SG are in the process of working out the rules of the tenant loan. SG will speak to the resilience groups about who should receive this and in what circumstances. SG want to fill the gap where people are not receiving DHP. The terms of loan, how long it should be for etc. is still work in progress and is bound by financial authority regulations. It is on the agenda for the social housing resilience group and it will be discussed by the PRS group. SG are happy to have any suggestions or ideas from the group. The chair asked the group to consider this request.
  • Helpful to see a focus on community 20 minute neighbourhoods/ climate action town centres, but would like to see a greater link to housing as a core part of the infrastructure in making these successful.​
  • There is another 6 months of leeway expected of landlords, and a loan fund from which landlords might access. Some kind of "hierarchy" of support will need to be worked out, e.g. where do you go to first?  
  • How will this affect the pre-action requirements and tribunal judgements in the PRS? We were told that it would breach landlord human rights to insist they applied for the landlord loan fund before applying for an eviction order. We cannot then expect tenants to get into debt to sustain their homes. 
  • People who are struggling financially do not need more debt irrespective of any soft terms attached to the loan.

3. Lived experience – next steps

The paper has been recirculated and work is ongoing. Comments from the group included the following:

  • There are a lot of innovative housing solutions where lived experience has been identified. Would want this work to be reflected in Housing to 2040.
  • There is a large body of evidence already from women and children, especially those made homeless resulting from domestic abuse. Happy to share gathered data on lived experience from across our 36 services.
  • ​What is the timetable for feeding into lived experience?
  • The intention is to build on existing information so that we have our final report in Oct/Nov. Helpful if those working in subsidiaries work for us to have a look at. I know there is a process of engagement in SG in many policy areas. We will put a timeline in the note of meeting for the lived experience data.

4. Phase 1 Recommendations (formerly Programme for Government Recommendations) – review

The Phase 1 Recommendations paper starts to merge into 2040 work. The recommendations are the deliverables that will make the principle work.

Comments from the group included:

  • Interested in the language used and would welcome the commitment to EQIA but seeing little evidence that it is happening. Don’t want to get to the recommendations stage and then try and do an EQIA. The EQIA are often done afterwards and then end up trying to justify the decisions already made. Need to decide how to address existing equalities.
  • Recognise this will be difficult and suggest that you start with a broad analysis of housing and homelessness to establish disproportionate equities that these recommendations are supposed to be addressing.
  • When HARSAG reconvened the officials did a lengthy document on the homelessness so might be good to go back to that.
  • SG were asked to look at this and come back with a process and timetable for EQIA work.
  • Additional resources are being sought so the LA can map out empty homes.
  • Further written comments can still be submitted until next Tuesday to transition into 2040 work

5. Housing to 2040 – review of comments and ranking of Principles

Jon summarised the voting results summarising the top 5 votes:  

Principle 15: “Everyone has the right to an adequate home” had the most votes and should perhaps become Principle one.

Principle 9: Decisions around the quality, location and utilisation of existing stock and new build should be ambitions in enhancing biodiversity, promoting Scotland's energy security, and be consistent with the target for Scotland's emissions to be net zero carbon by 2045.

Principle 4: Housing provision should be informed by whole life economic costs and benefits in the round and help to address inequalities in health, wealth and education. Comments included some useful comments about young people.

Principle 11: Local communities should be empowered to respond to housing need in their area, as part of a coherent regional economic approach (creating and maintaining jobs) and supported by provision of the right infrastructure.

Principle 13: Government should ensure that there are affordable housing options across Scotland for households at all income levels.

Members commented as follows:

  • Would want to see specific reference to the right to be safe from abuse and violence for women and children in the definition of adequate.
  • Children's homelessness is increasing significantly, and would want to see some reflection and analysis about how that links with national child poverty work and how we then reflect that in recommendations.
  • One local authority commented that they had sought agreement from council leaders and also cross checking with other departments.
  • Guideline no. 9 in the special rapporteur's guidance on implementing the right has quite extensive content in relation to gender equality:
  • The guidance to implementing the right to adequate housing is pretty expansive and links to a lot of the other principles. Can we map that across and identify any gaps?

At the next meeting the plan is to have a more structured discussion around key comments and principles. It would be helpful to prioritise principles with practical ways of meeting these.

6. Next steps

The Chairs are presenting at SRAB next week and Cabinet Secretaries who chair have decided that housing should be profiled alongside community and place network.

7. AoB, next meetings and close

The group were thanked for their input.

The intention is to continue with weekly meetings. Please continue to send in comments and thoughts.

EQIA to be added to the agenda for next week.

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