Supported Accommodation Steering Group minutes: January 2018

Minutes of the third meeting of the Supported Accommodation Steering Group held on 30 January 2018.

Attendees and apologies

  • Tracy McKen - SG; Supported Accommodation Team (Chair)
  • Frank McGregor - SG; Social Security Directorate
  • Yvette Burgess - HSEU
  • Michael McClements - COSLA
  • Tony Cain - ALACHO
  • Amanda Britain - CIH
  • Sarah Newton - SG; Social Researcher
  • Joe Jobling - SG; Statistician
  • June Deans - Glasgow City Council
  • Julie Hunter - North Lanarkshire Council
  • Fiona Stringfellow - Blue Triangle (Glasgow) HA
  • Jo Ozga - Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Sheena Simpson - SFHA


  • Graham Thomson – SG; Supported Accommodation Team
  • Jeremy Hewer – SFHA
  • David Bookbinder - Glasgow West of Scotland Housing Forum
  • Angela Currie - Blackwood

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Introductions

New members of the group were welcomed to their first meeting. TM explained that Graham is now on paternity leave. Congratulations were offered to Graham Thomson and his family on the birth of their baby.

2. Minute of last meeting (Paper 1)

Minute was approved with a suggestion that the date be included in the minute heading.

Actions still outstanding: Nominations for a lead officer from each LA have been received except in 3 areas. Tracy to follow up with Michael.

3. Terms of Reference and membership (Paper 2)

The revised Terms of Reference had been circulated for comment. The group discussed the aims and agreed that they should include sustainability of provision.

Tracy confirmed that June should have been included on the list of members. Tony noted that he had identified a possible member from another local authority, with a background in working with homelessness. Tracy advised that she had received no suggestions for an additional homeless contact. Tracy noted that Homeless Action Scotland had been in contact to suggest that an additional voluntary sector representative be invited. The group discussed this and while they felt that the group already has voluntary sector representation, they agreed that another organisation could be invited to join.

Scottish Care Leavers Covenant has expressed a willingness to support the work of the group given the implications of the changes for young care leavers obtaining and moving on successfully from supported housing.

Action point:

  • Fiona to suggest wording to reflect aim to achieve sustainability of provision.
  • Tony to provide contact details
  • Tracy to consider further if an additional member representing voluntary sector should be asked to the group

4. Data and costs for supported housing

Joe provided an update of the sub group meeting which took place on 23 Jan. There are no existing data sources which can provide the information required. The group discussed the merits of conducting a LA survey, a provider survey and ask the Care Inspectorate to distinguish between supported housing and visiting support services. There was agreement that there should be both a provider survey and LA survey to enable cross validation of results.

Fiona highlighted that some services may be sustained by social work funding rather than higher rents and therefore more difficult to identify simply from HB data. In such examples the funding coming through from the benefits system was nevertheless crucial to sustainability. It was agreed that developing case studies to examine different funding arrangements would be helpful to inform the development of surveys. Yvette suggested that local registers of supported housing would be helpful. June agreed but advised that HB teams lack the resources to do this.

Fiona asked if private rented sector supported housing should be reflected in the information gathered if they could call on the future devolved funding. The group discussed the good quality of such provision in Scotland.

Tony expressed a concern about the future recovery of costs associated with dispersed temporary accommodation under UC because it does not fit the short term supported housing criteria and so could not be funded through the new devolved funding. The Group acknowledged that the use of temporary accommodation is under review at a national level and that this may entail further information gathering.

Action points:

  • case studies to be developed
  • HB resources required to develop local registers of supported housing to be considered by the SG
  • Tracy to discuss relevance of data on The House Key with colleagues
  • key contacts list to be developed
  • Jo will discuss with Sarah the way that women’s aid services take part in a global annual census
  • By March /April the SG will have developed a list of providers collated from information provided by LAs. This will be shared with members of the group.

5. Options for distribution of funding (Paper 3)

The group discussed the paper. General points:

  • The descriptions of options should be neutral at this stage and in due course need to be informed by the final criteria /description of short term supported accommodation
  • The options could set out common features e.g. where supported person receives the funding. Setting out common features will help in discussions with people who have otherwise not been involved in the options appraisal process
  • Accountability needs to be considered before options are appraised
  • Confidence and security of funding should be included in the options appraisal criteria at 1.3
  • Preferred options may need to be reflected in information gathering exercises
  • Options appraisal could vary according to setting / client group e.g. responsibility for rent could be important for young people developing life skills associated with tenancies but in other situations rent liability might not be desirable e.g. where individuals have been forced to leave their home because of risks to their security and safety as in the case of women’s refuges.
  • Reference to ‘outcomes for individuals’ could be expanded upon - what sort of outcome measure? short or long term outcomes?
  • ‘Timing’ criteria could be collapsed into ‘feasibility of delivery, including complexity’.
  • ‘Costs’ should be replaced by ‘resources’
  • Equality Impact Assessment needs to be built into the options appraisal process

Are there any other options that should be included?

  • Mix of approaches should be added as an option
  • Payments direct to service users should be reflected as an option involving the LA - this might look something like Self Directed Support which provides individual funding for social care as opposed to housing

6. Project Initiation Document (Paper 4)

Does the group agree that the SG should fund and organise an independent options appraisal to be carried out?

Yes, the group agreed with this proposal.

Amanda volunteered to be involved in the procurement exercise.

The group discussed the various stages of the project and Tony asked at what stage the Minister could effectively close down any of the options. Tracy advised that the Minister has said that the SG should go out and engage widely.

The group discussed the way that the combination of funding services receive from HB and local authorities does not necessarily cover costs and providers end up picking up the cost. There are also situations where the local authorities contribute to the funding of supported housing through the LA grant where HB will not fund the whole amount of benefit e.g. where landlord is a voluntary org rather than a registered social landlord. The group also acknowledged the complexity of current funding arrangements and therefore the necessity to consider funding sources beyond the devolved pot of funding. Case studies would help examine this.

Fiona expressed concern that it will be harder to raise loans when HB is not guaranteed under the new system. Amanda suggested that the options appraisal needs to capture level of risk to certain groups of people/services.

Jo expressed concern that the options appraisal should consider those not entitled to HB such as people with no recourse to public funds. Julie concurred with this and cited a further example of UK nationals returning to the UK after spells abroad and having no recourse to benefits for some time. In these cases local authorities are sometimes having to step in to provide funding.

Yvette suggested that the group should not be bound by current system failures and look at opportunity presented by the devolved budget to do things better.

Action points:

  • Business case for options appraisal to be developed - TM
  • Stakeholders, including service users or representative groups will be involved through workshops
  • Recommendation from the Steering Group to the Minister in time to allow a final decision by the end of December 2018.

7. Funding short term supported accommodation (Paper 5)

This paper has been produced to set out aims and vision for the Minister.

The Group discussed the need to reflect on emerging needs and future provision within the options appraisal ; the project plan and this aims and vision paper.

Yvette suggested adding ‘meeting future needs’ to the options appraisal criteria set out in Paper 3 at 1.3.

Action point: Comments to be sent to Tracy by 7th February.

8. Communications and Engagement Plan

Tracy provided an update on engagement activities. She and Graham have met over 200 people at workshops and meetings. They are able to attend further meetings. The SG website now includes an update for supported housing. The Knowledge Hub has over 30 new members and posts are getting 30 – 40 views. The Group agreed that meeting papers should be posted on the Knowledge Hub. Tracy will be having a phonecall with the DCLG in early February and may be able to provide more information about the DCLG’s timescale for analysing consultation responses and responding to the consultation results.

9. Risk register (Paper 6)

The Risk Register was discussed. Two risks were added.

10. Project Plan (Paper 7)

For noting.

11. AOB

Fiona expressed general concern about the devolved funding pot not being sufficient to fund existing provision let alone new provision. Julie shared her concerns and reflected on the way local authorities are facing a shortfall in funding for temporary accommodation due to the benefit cap. In North Lanarkshire this could amount to £3m shortfall. This will put further pressure on funds for housing support delivered by the voluntary and private sectors.

12. Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting would take place at the end of March.

Action point: Doodle poll to be sent out - TM

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