Open - The Scottish Government

In Attendance:
Robert Aldridge
Yvette Burgess
Ron Culley
Tony Fitzgerald
Amanda Miller
Helen Murdoch
David Ogilvie
Austen Smyth
Stephen Sandham
Tracy Duncan
Dave Fairweather
Ged Millar
Jackie Walder
Scottish Council for Single Homeless (SCSH)
Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU)
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
Angus Council
Bield Housing Association
Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)
Richmond Fellowship
Scottish Government, Housing Support Team (Chair)
Scottish Government, Housing Support Team (Minutes)
Scottish Government, Housing Support Team
Scottish Government, Housing Support Team
Scottish Government, Housing Support Team (Minutes)
Heather Dall
Bobby Duffy
Michael Gillespie
Peter Millar
Care Commission
Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)
Glasgow City Council
1. Welcome and Introductions
1.1 Stephen welcomed everyone to the meeting, particularly Dave Fairweather and Ged
Millar who were attending for the first time for the items on housing benefit reform and
cross-boundary funding issues.
2. Minutes of last meeting
2.1 The minutes of the last meeting on 17 May 2010 were agreed without amendment.
3. Housing benefit reform
3.1 Stephen introduced a paper on the reforms to housing benefit proposed by the UK
Coalition Government. He noted that the first tranche of reforms focuses mainly on the
private rented sector, with a second tranche planned for the social rented sector. He advised
that Andy Warden and Ged Millar have been brought in to the Housing Support Team to work
on housing benefit reform, and that the Scottish Government is keen to work with
stakeholders to get a better picture of the impact of the changes in Scotland.
3.2 Robert advised that SCSH is doing a survey of local authorities on the proposed reforms,
asking about a number of areas, including:
The change to LHA rates being set at the 30th percentile of rents instead of the median
rent. He noted that there could be big differences between local authorities.
Discretionary Housing Payments. From experience, SCSH believe they may be
underused by local authorities, and that the proposed budget increase may not make much
Increases in rates of non-dependent deductions, which may increase pressure on houses
with young adults
Robert advised that the results of the survey are expected in the next two or three weeks. The
following points were made in discussion:
Tranche 1 changes will adversely affect the ability of people to sustain tenancies in the
private sector, with a negative impact on the 2012 homelessness target, but the Tranche 2
changes may have any even deeper impact.
The planned changes add more complication to an already complicated policy and shift
the problems and costs from Westminster to the local level. This will place additional
pressure on the Scottish Government block, which is expected to be cut.
The changes will hit the poor hardest and increase waiting lists and voids, with potential
for increasing rent arrears.
Concerns that proposed reforms come at the wrong time, given other current pressures on
2012, housing support and affordable housing.
Proposed housing benefit and other welfare changes are likely to make the private rented
sector a less viable option.
Support for a simpler and more accessible system, but recognition that there are
additional costs involved in making these changes.
Later changes in social rented sector may cause issues, given that housing benefit will be
reduced in cases of under-occupation. The growth in single person households, when
most social rented stock is two or three bedroom will make it harder to match the
demographics of the population to housing stock.
Discretionary Housing Payments are for short term crisis situations. Shortfalls are likely
to be endemic and long term, so won’t fit that profile.
Question about whether the proposed changes will affect people with occupancy
agreements rather than tenancies.
It would be helpful to second in someone from a local authority with expertise in housing
benefit issues to work on this.
SFHA is launching a campaign on the housing benefit reforms on 30 September and has
joined forces with the Welsh and Northern Irish Housing Federations.
Action: Stephen to consider secondment of someone with housing benefit expertise.
Action: David to provide further details of the SFHA campaign for circulation to
Forum members.
3.3 Stephen advised that a stakeholder group will be established to consider the housing
benefit reforms. It was agreed that COSLA, SFHA, SCSH and Richmond Fellowship should
be represented on the group.
Action: Ged to note details of representatives for stakeholder group.
3.4 David and Yvette advised that they are giving evidence to the Finance Committee for its
Inquiry into Preventative Spending on 5 October.
4. Cross-boundary funding issues
4.1 Yvette advised that the Scottish Government has issued new regulations and guidance
about ordinary residence and the recovery of costs, where more than one local authority is
involved. She reported that some providers are now being left with funding shortfalls, when
disputes arise between local authorities. This appears to be out of step with the guidance, as
providers are not supposed to be left without funding while disputes are resolved. The
following points were made in discussion:
The issue is with the procedure and lack of a dispute resolution process.
There are also issues with the NHS in cases where someone is in hospital and can’t be
discharged because of a lack of agreement on funding of care and support.
There are older issues relating to local authorities which have care villages in their areas.
There are differences between local authorities depending on the balance of in and out
It has always been assumed that cross boundary funding disputes on housing support
should follow the principles set out in the guidance, but the guidance doesn’t explicitly
cover housing support.
Providers face a difficult choice over whether to provide the service without authority or
to cut the service.
With the funding situation becoming more difficult, a solution needs to be found now to
deal with these relatively smaller problems, so that the right environment is created for
people to work together when more severe cuts start.
Issues about whether there should be a revised assessment of clients’ needs when they
move between local authorities.
There is a need to protect the client and the provider during the transitional period.
Action: Ron to discuss within COSLA and report back at the next meeting.
5. Better Futures IT tool
5.1 Yvette reported that improvements have been made to the IT tool over the summer, and
there will be a demonstration at the SHASC conference on 7 October. Capita are still
working on 15 standard reports and on the importing tool. It is hoped that service users will
be able to start using the tool in October. David advised that the cross-sector working group
on supported accommodation is keen to see the tool working to show the benefits of housing
5.2 Yvette advised that the Enabling Unit is pooling knowledge of outcome tools across
social care. The results will be published on the Enabling Unit website. Yvette noted that
most of the tools surveyed do not have cost-effectiveness as a key component, and that Better
Futures is relatively unusual in having measures and an IT platform.
Action: Yvette to circulate details of the information on outcome tools.
6. Raising the profile of housing support
6.1 Yvette advised that there are now ten case studies on the Enabling Unit’s website. Most
relate to homelessness, and the Unit is looking for more on older people’s services, service
redesign and individuals. Yvette also reported that the photo competition has received 50
entries. The photos can be viewed on Flickr, and the winners will be announced at the
SHASC conference.
7. National Development Group for Older People’s Care
7.1 Ron advised that the first meeting had taken place and considered the group’s remit and
relationship to the Reshaping Care programme. A further meeting had agreed to rename the
group as the National Forum for Older People’s Care and that it would take overall
responsibility for work going forward on older people’s care. The Forum would be
accountable to the Ministerial Strategic Group, and membership would be at Chief Executive
level. It would have a strategic function for older people’s care, developing and
implementing policy and going beyond to more general issues.
8. Reshaping Care for Older People
8.1 Ron noted that a lot was hanging on the Spending Review, as reductions in community
care funding would make shifting the balance of care difficult. He said that there was an
emerging consensus on the model of care, but that there was need for further engagement on
funding into the future. It was likely that there would be some pooling of budgets between
the NHS and social care. Stephen noted that it would be important that sheltered housing,
housing support and adaptations were within the scope of the pooled budgets, as it needed to
be recognised that they were important in helping people to get home from hospital, and Ron
8.2 Stephen reported that work was continuing on the Wider Planning for an Ageing
Population workstream, with the consultation on the workstream report and work beginning
on a strategy for housing for older people.
9. AOB
9.1 Helen reported that Bield, Hanover and Trust Housing Associations are coming together
to look at the Social Return on Investment in relation to very sheltered housing and
9.2 Robert advised that the European Commission is developing a European Quality
Assurance Framework in the social care field.
9.3 Tony reported that it appeared that the quango administering the Independent Living
Fund (ILF) was going to be abolished, and that no new applications for funding were now
being considered, with the fund itself being run down. He noted that a lot of people in
Scotland receive funding from the ILF, and that some local authorities could lose out heavily.
10. Date of next meeting
10.1 It was agreed that the next meeting should take place in January 2011.
Action: Jackie to circulate possible dates.
Housing Support
September 2010