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Publication - Minutes

Joint Housing Policy and Delivery Group minutes: June 2016

Published: 16 Nov 2016
Date of meeting: 22 Jun 2016
Date of next meeting: 8 Nov 2016
Location: Edinburgh

Note of meeting of the JHPDG group, co-chaired by Lesley Fraser, Director for Housing, Regeneration and Welfare, Scottish Government; and Tom Barclay(RICS).

Attendees and apologies

Attendees:

  • Lesley Fraser (Co-Chair) Director for Housing, Regeneration and Welfare, SG
  • Tom Barclay (Co-Chair) (RICS)
  • Lauren Bruce, CoSLA (subs)
  • Annie Mauger, CIH Scotland
  • Nicola Barclay, Homes for Scotland
  • Derek Logie, Rural Housing Scotland
  • Graeme Brown, Shelter Scotland
  • Tony Cain, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers
  • Elaine McHugh, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers
  • Alistair Reid, Tenants Information Service (subs)
  • John McNairney, Chief Planner
  • Euan McLauchlin, Heads of Planning Scotland (subs)
  • David Melhuish, Scottish Property Federation (subs)
  • Alan Ferguson, Existing Homes Alliance / Fuel Poverty Forum
  • June Deasy, Council of Mortgage Lenders
  • David Bookbinder, Glasgow West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations
  • Heather Fisken, Independent Living in Scotland
  • Andrew Jackson, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Jonathan Gordon, RICS
  • George Dodds, Health Scotland
  • Michael Halliday, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (subs)
  • Michael Cameron, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Dominic Munro, Head of Better Homes Division, Scottish Government
  • David Signorini, Head of Communities Analytical Services
  • Richard Murphy, MURJA
  • Susan Torrance, Scottish Government
  • Susan Lane, Scottish Government
  • Rachel England, Scottish Government
  • Barry Stalker, Scottish Government
  • Linda Leslie, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Bethany Wilson, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Karen Schober, Communication Support

Apologies

  • Malcolm Fraser, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (subs Michael Halliday)
  • Douglas Robertson, PRS Strategy Group
  • David Jenkins School of the Built Environment, Herriot Watt University
  • George McGuinness, Regional Tenant Networks
  • Ed Monaghan, Construction Scotland
  • Hugh McClung, Central Region Tenants’ Network
  • Amanda Britain, CIH Scotland
  • Peter Marshall, Heads of Planning Scotland (subs Euan McLauchlin)
  • Ilene Campbell, Tenants Information Service (subs Alistair Reid)
  • Ken Ross, Scottish Property Federation (subs David Melhuish)
  • Silke Isbrand, COSLA (subs Lauren Bruce)
  • Lesley Baird, Tenant Participation Advisory Service
  • Deborah Smith Deputy Director Housing Supply & Innovation, SG
  • Brad Gilbert, Head of Financial Innovation Unit, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Introductions and Apologies

1. Tom Barclay (TB), chairing, welcomed everyone to the sixth meeting of the Joint Housing Policy and Delivery Group (JHPDG), and noted apologies and attendees as above.

2. He also noted the Group’s thanks for the contribution made by Keith Anderson, both to the JHPDG and to the Scottish Housing Event in 2014. Keith came to the end of his term as chairman of CIH Scotland in the Spring, and has been replaced by Amanda Britain. It was noted that Keith has now been elected to the governing board of CIH.

Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising

Paper: JHPDG 39

3. The minutes of the previous meeting, held on 9 February 2016, were agreed as read.

4. Action Points 6, 7, 9 and 10 are completed. Action Points 1, 2, 4, 5, 8 and 11 are in progress, and Action Point 3 is marked for further consideration.

5. Updates were given on other matters raised in February’s meeting:

SEEP

6. Dominic Munro (DM) gave an update on Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP).

7. The Programme is currently in the developmental phase, and expected to come into full operation around 2018.

8. The Programme Board is established, and has met several times, and there have been several stakeholder events and information-gathering workshops. Further stakeholder engagement is planned.

9. The first year of pilot schemes has now been launched, and proposals have been submitted. A formal announcement of which pilot projects will receive funding is expected later in the summer.

10. SEEP will also cover the related new powers being devolved to Scotland in these areas, taking an integrated approach to regulation, as well as linking in to new financing mechanisms and new ways of bringing about behaviour change.

11. Ministers have committed to consult on regulation of energy efficiency in the private sector within the lifetime of the new Parliament

12. TB noted that DM is moving on from his current post to become Director for Fair Work, Employability and Skills, and thanked him for his contribution to the JHPDG.

Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016

13. DM gave an update on the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 which received Royal Assent on 22 April.

14. Work on implementation is underway; the Scottish Government will continue to work with stakeholders during the development of secondary legislation and supporting guidance. A stakeholder implementation group has recently been established to this end, and further public consultation is expected in Winter 2016.

15. The First Tier Tribunal system is expected to come into operation in December 2017, and the new tenancy is expected to come into force at a similar time to align with this.

16. Concerns were raised around the removal of the initial tenancy period, and the potential increase in landlord’s costs caused by short tenancies. Barry Stalker (BS) noted that this had been a contentious issue, but emphasised that the removal of the initial period was intended to benefit both landlords and tenants. He pointed out that tenants also incur costs by moving and that the majority would therefore not be expected to move tenancies frequently, unless they had need to.

17. DM confirmed that Purpose Build Student Accommodation was exempted from the new Tenancy in the legislation as finally passed.

18. A query was raised regarding who would be on the stakeholder implementation group, and whether this would include the PRS champion and members of the working party. SG colleagues to confirm (AP-1).

19. Some Group members raised a concern regarding whether stakeholder trust had been damaged during the Bill process. BS assured members that stakeholder engagement was continuing. TB suggested that this might be an area where the subgroup chairs could aid with engaging stakeholder audiences.

Rural Housing and Increased Supply

20. Sue Lane (SL), substituting for Deborah Smith of the More Homes Division of the Scottish Government, spoke briefly about the Rural Housing Fund. A link to further information about this is on the Knowledge Hub.

21. Derek Logie (DL) highlighted the need for a review process to compare the locations and sizes of the communities who are applying.

Sub-groups – approach and future work

Paper: JHPDG 46

22. TB spoke to paper JHPDG 46, setting out how the plenary group and subgroups are expected to tie together. He explained that he and co-Chair Lesley Fraser (LF) have had discussions with both subgroup chairs, and all felt that the first subgroup meetings should ideally take place in August, to maintain the momentum of the groups.

23. TB congratulated both subgroup chairs on their election, and invited them to speak to the Group about how they plan to take the subgroups forward, where they feel their priorities lay, and what they would be looking for in terms of contributions from JHPDG members.

Nicola Barclay – Subgroup Chair – Home and Place Subgroup.

24. Nicola Barclay (NB) thanked members for nominating and electing her.

25. She expressed a desire for the Home and Place subgroup to move to the implementation phase of the work on the Joint Delivery Plan, and focus on actions which will generate the most return.

26. NB reflected that it would be useful at this point for subgroups to pause and consider the vision for the Joint Delivery Plan, and also to flag up anything they felt was missing from the Plan, and any other individuals or groups who should be involved in the delivery of the Actions.

27. She considered that the two key themes for the Home and Place subgroup were increasing the number of homes, and improving quality of place. She felt there was a need for the Home and Place subgroup to consider how best to measure these, pointing out that an increase in numbers is generally easier to measure than improvement in quality.

28. NB requested volunteers to join the Home and Place subgroup, and also requested a list of extant working groups to facilitate discussion on how the various working groups and their members can link and work to deliver the Actions in the Plan. Secretariat to provide (AP-2). She also mentioned the importance of engaging with key agencies in order to facilitate delivery.

Skills and Development Session

29. NB also gave an update on the planned interactive session around skills and development, due to happen after the summer recess. This will be led by Jim Mather, Chairman of Homes for Scotland.

30. Initial thoughts on who should be involved include schools, colleges and universities, Construction Industry Training Board, the Federation of Master Builders, RICS, and other professional bodies.  

Tony Cain – Subgroup Chair – Housing Journey and Support Subgroup.

31. Tony Cain (TC) also expressed his intention to focus on delivery, and requested that JHPDG members consider whether there might be up and coming leaders within their organisations who might benefit from involvement in the subgroup as a development opportunity.

32. He noted the changes in the sector since the Plan was produced, and the fact that not all of the challenges currently facing the sector were covered by the 34 Actions in the Delivery Plan.

33. He stated that the first meeting of the Housing Journey and Support subgroup would centre around prioritisation of Actions which are relevant to the current situation, and risk identification.

34. Key points raised during the discussion included:

  • An acknowledgement of the changes in context since the Plan was produced, and that the subgroups may find it helpful to reconsider some aspects of the Actions. However, delivery and implementation remains the priority; the intention is not to spend time re-writing the Plan.
  • Recognition that important aspects will still be brought to the plenary Group for discussion; the subgroups will not supersede the plenary Group.
  • Confirmation that Group members can nominate a different person to represent their organisations on the relevant subgroup(s).
  • The recommendation that reports from other organisations (e.g. Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group, Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force) which are due to be published soon should feed into the work of subgroups.
  • A recognition that the personnel involved in the Group have changed since the Plan was published, and an agreement that a position statement should be prepared to set the scene for newer members and subgroup representatives. Secretariat to provide (AP-3).
  • The suggestion of the subgroups as a forum in which to highlight examples of good practice and collaboration, such as North Lanarkshire Council taking the lead on procurement of the Housing Options Training Toolkit in cooperation with the 32 other local authorities.
  • The continuing development of work on how housing need maps on to poverty in Scotland – NHS Health Scotland and Dave Signorini to discuss whether their datasets can be combined to produce a more comprehensive picture. (AP-4)

Position Report on the Joint Housing Delivery Plan for Scotland

Paper: JHPDG 47

35. TB introduced paper JHPDG 47, and indicated that many actions were on track, although a lot still remains to be done. TB particularly highlighted the good progress work done by the Land, Planning and Infrastructure working group on Actions 1-10 in the Plan.

Planning Review

36. John McNairney (JM) gave an update on the Planning Review, which reported in May. Ministers are currently considering a response to the recommendations, which will hopefully be published soon.

37. The Review covers six areas, which tie in to many of the Delivery Plan Actions. JM gave a summary of some of the recommendations, and indicated that going forward there will be a need to reflect on Ministerial priorities, and timescales for delivery.

38. Members indicated that their organisations were broadly supportive of the recommendations in the Review.

Action 26

39. Annie Mauger (AM) gave an update on Action 26.

40. The working group is conscious of a lack of public awareness of the range of housing options available - particularly mid market rent - coupled with poor public perception of some options such as social renting and the PRS sector.

41. The working group is currently focussing on events and activities to tie into the social media-led National Housing Day on 19 September 2016, and requested that organisations represented in the JHPDG considered whether their members could be involved – particularly local authority and tenant organisations. The working group feels that the Housing Day is a good opportunity to put across key messages, and provide people with publicity for awareness-raising which they may already be doing.

Scottish Government Significant Strategic Developments

New Ministers and Priorities 42. LF gave an update on the Ministers whose portfolios now cover housing and related issues.

43. The Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP, is very aware of housing issues, and has a particular concern for delivery.

44. The Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, will be covering the supply issues across all tenures, homelessness, community planning, other aspects of housing, as well as planning, business improvement districts, town centres and building standards, and is focussed on what needs to happen practically to enable things to improve in these areas.

45. The Minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman MSP, will be particularly working to tackle poverty and inequality.  

Scottish Comprehensive Spending Review 2016

46. LF gave a brief update on the Comprehensive Spending Review, advising that there was no information available yet on whether this would be a one-year or a three-year spending review. More information is expected on this over the summer.

47. The timetable for delivery of the budget may be adjusted because of the new tax-raising powers available to the Scottish Government, but as yet there has been no decision on this.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax

48. Dave Signorini gave an update on LBTT. Key points made were:

  • During 2016, the first year of LBTT and Revenue Scotland collected over £200m of revenue; this was at the lower end of SG forecasts.
  • Ministers aim to make the overall tax take revenue neutral so the amount of money would be the same, with only the tax rates altering.
  • Work is underway to look at the data about the Scottish housing market in 2015/16. Following the financial crash, house prices in Scotland stayed largely the same but the number of transactions froze. The 2015/16 data shows that the number of transactions is rising back to pre-crash levels. There has been a 10% increase in the number of transactions, suggesting the market is thawing, and prices are relatively stable over the year.
  • The data showed that people responded rationally by carrying out transactions ahead of the change to the tax rate. The technical term is forestalling and the effect is that transactions were brought forward or delayed. The resulting drop in revenue is within the range previously estimated.

Office of National Statistics reclassification of RSLs

49. DM gave an update on the potential for the ONS to reclassify RSLs into the public sector.

50. Ministers intend to do what is necessary to allow RSLs to remain in the private sector. This is likely to involve early legislation to reduce specific powers currently held by the Scottish Housing Regulator which are similar to those which led to the reclassification of the Social Landlords in England. It is hoped that legislating proactively and quickly will help to reduce any related uncertainty in the sector.

51. Proposals for doing this are likely to be announced shortly, and will then be discussed with the Scottish Housing Regulator, RSLs, lenders and other stakeholders.

52. Michael Cameron emphasised that the Scottish Housing Regulator would continue to regulate effectively whatever the statutory framework.

53. JHPDG members expressed broad support for the approach, and requested early engagement with stakeholders as part of the process.

54. A request was made by Group members for a crib sheet on the economic contribution of housing to be compiled from information held by member organisations. Information for inclusion in this is to be emailed to the secretariat (AP-5*)

55. It was queried whether a future agenda should include some briefing on City Deals, and the potential for them to encompass housing matters. (AP-6)

Key Legislative Pipeline

56. LF listed three other potential forthcoming bills of which JHPDG members might wish to be aware.

57. The Social Security Bill will set in place the framework for the delivery of new Social Security powers in Scotland. Initial consultation on this is expected over the summer, beginning in July.

58. It is also likely that there will be consultation on measures of child poverty, as the Scottish Parliament has secured powers to be able to set its own income targets in relation to this.

59. LF also noted the possibility of legislation to further tackle fuel poverty.

60. Points raised in discussion included:

  • The fact that Housing Associations are exempt from LBTT when buying “second hand properties” while local authorities are not.
  • Potential for funding problems around temporary accommodation.
  • Concern that the imposition of the Local Housing Allowance shared accommodation rate for under 35s creates significant difficulties for social landlords, which will need to be addressed to mitigate problems with the delivery of commitments made around the table.

Updates on the More Homes Scotland approach, including the new infrastructure fund

Paper: JHPDG 48

Housing Infrastructure Fund

61. Sue Lane (SL) spoke to paper JHPDG 48, concerning the Infrastructure Fund.

Points raised during the discussion included:

  • The engagement of local authorities in the planning process, and the difficulties raised by differing planning cycles across departments
  • The importance of considering equalities issues in a holistic way when planning infrastructure. It was confirmed that this consideration is being pursued in conversations with planning and architecture colleagues.
  • ALACHO undertook to share with the Scottish Government the results of their survey of local authorities which seeks to capture the range of issues that they are facing. (AP-7)

More Homes Scotland

62. Rachel England (RE) updated the Group on the mid-market rent invitation, issued at the end of March 2016, for the provision of additional affordable housing for long-term MMR at scale across Scotland

63. It is hoped that the first proposals will be evaluated and underway by the end of 2016.

64. A query was raised regarding data collection around disabilities and housing standards in different housing programmes; whether data on this was being collected, whether it was being monitored as regards equalities issues, and whether changes to the Scottish household survey would impact on this. Dave Signorini to consider (AP-8).

Private Rented Sector

65. Barry Stalker (BS) updated the Group on work done with the industry-led Private Rented Sector Working Group and other stakeholders around Build to Rent.

66. A consultation was recently carried out around a proposed Rental Income Guarantee Scheme to build investor confidence. The findings are currently under consideration, and more information is expected to be available shortly.

67. Work is also underway on producing an Opportunities Document, which will hopefully be published later in the year.

Risk and capital lending – delivery challenges for affordable housing providers.

Paper: JHPDG 49

68. June Deasy, Michael Cameron and Richard Murphy spoke to this item, followed by a discussion.

69. Some aspects of the Social Housing Sector in Scotland are currently considered attractive to investors, such as the strong regulatory environment, Government support and levels of grant funding, and differences in policy between England and Scotland.

70. Challenges identified within the sector included:

  • Capacity issues in the building industry leading to an increase in tender costs
  • The concern that tenants may struggle with rent increases which may be necessary to fund development of further homes
  • Potential lack of the knowledge and skills necessary to engage effectively in development within some Housing Associations. The Scottish Housing Regulator is currently carrying out a thematic inquiry to highlight positive practise and potential risks around development and will publish the findings from this in due course.
  • Future costs such as energy efficiency measures potentially diminishing the value of properties
  • Risk of market uncertainty
  • Lack of understanding among investors about the differences between England and Scotland as regards housing. One example given was the apparent confusion regarding the 20-year rule in Scotland. RE clarified that changes in Scottish legislation in recent years have made it legally possible to create head leases for longer than 20 years in Scotland.
  • Members also mentioned a lack of awareness among investors about the differences between England and Scotland in terms of policy positions around the sector.

71. There was enthusiasm around the table for a potential ‘Investing in Scottish Housing’ event in the new year to promote housing and increase awareness of the distinct differences between the Scottish and English policy positions. (AP-9)

Any other business

72. Jonathan Gordon (JG) mentioned a lack of awareness from the public how much control the government can have on tax, and requested that the proposed crib sheet on the economic contribution of housing also include information on this. SG colleagues will undertake a separate strand of work with JG to outline the current areas including reform of council tax, derelict land tax and land reform. (AP-5*)

73. Tony Cain drew members’ attention to the ‘Under One Roof’ website, due to launch in July, which will be a resource for homeowners dealing with common maintenance.

74. TB advised the Group that Susan Torrance would shortly be finishing in her current post, and led the Group in thanking her for her work on both the 2014 Housing Event and the Delivery Plan.

75. TB requested that members sent any relevant updates from their specialist areas to the secretariat, and also to indicate any areas of the Plan which they felt might require updates or clarification. (AP-10)

76. Next Meetings:

8 November 2016, MacDonald Holyrood Hotel
7 February 2017, MacDonald Holyrood Hotel

Action Points

AP-1 SG colleagues to confirm who would be on the stakeholder implementation group, and whether this would include the PRS champion and members of the working party. Completed.

AP-2 Secretariat to provide a list of extant working groups to facilitate discussion on how the various working groups and their members can link and work to deliver the Actions in the Plan. Completed.

AP-3 Secretariat to provide a position statement to set the scene for newer members and subgroup representatives. Completed.

AP-4 NHS Health Scotland and Dave Signorini to discuss whether their datasets can be combined to produce a more comprehensive picture on how housing need maps on to poverty in Scotland.

AP-5 Members are requested to send any information on the economic contribution of housing available from their organisations to the secretariat, who will compile a crib sheet. This will also include information on tax-related issues from the Scottish Government.

AP-6 Briefing on City Deals, and the potential for them to encompass housing matters, to be included on a future plenary agenda. For agenda.

AP-7 ALACHO to share with the Scottish Government the results of their survey of local authorities. ALACHO analysis in progress

AP-8 Dave Signorini to consider data collection around disabilities and housing standards; whether data on this was being collected and whether it was being monitored as regards equalities issues.

AP-9 Further consideration to be given to a possible ‘Investing in Scottish Housing’ event in early 2017.

AP-10 JHPDG members to send any relevant updates from their specialist areas to the secretariat, and to indicate any areas of the Plan which they felt might require updates or clarification.

Contact

Bethany Wilson

Published:
16 Nov 2016
Joint Housing Policy and Delivery Group minutes: June 2016