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How well does Housing feature within Strategic Commissioning Plans?

Strategic planning is a vital part of ensuring that public services remain focused on the needs of the population.

Kenny Simpson from the Place, Home and Housing programme in the iHub reflects on how well the various Strategic Commissioning Plans feature housing.

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Strategic planning is a vital part of ensuring that public services remain focused on the needs of the population, perhaps especially at times when services are being reshaped. Both for housing and for health and social care, the respective legislation set out specific requirements for strategic planning. Guidance was published by Scottish Government in September 2015 describing how planning for housing services and for health & social care can be better aligned.

It is clearly desirable for there to be strategic coordination between the expressed approaches of the Strategic Commissioning Plans (SCP)  and the Local Housing Strategy (LHS) as they relate to health and housing. Three requirements to support this coordination are: the involvement of housing representatives in the Integration Authority’s Strategic Planning Group and localities; shared work on the Needs Assessments underpinning the two strategies; and the production of a Housing Contribution Statement (HCS) by each Integration Authority, as part of its Strategic Commissioning Plan, to explain how services have been aligned.

An examination of SCPs has been undertaken to establish how well the three requirements have been covered by the Integration Authorities. Where an HCS exists an attempt has also been made to draw out common themes. Findings from 31 SCPs are discussed below.

First of the three requirements noted above is the involvement of housing reps in Strategic Planning Groups (SPG) and Localities. It would appear that the housing sector is indeed represented on all SPGs and on some Integration Joint Boards (IJB). It also seems clear that housing will be involved at locality planning group level although in most areas these are relatively underdeveloped.

Also some plans indicate the inclusion of RSls and the Third sector featuring prominently. Aberdeenshire have 2 reps on Strategic Planning Group (SPG) including an RSL while East Renfrewshire also have the chief housing officer and CEO of a local RSL. Edinburgh have RSLs very well ‘plugged’ into the whole process too via their Affordable Housing Partnership sub group chaired by an RSL member. And of course the stock transfer authorities inevitably have RSLs taking the lead on the housing contribution to health and wellbeing objectives set out in the SCPs.

The second requirement considers shared work on needs assessments. Ideally this should include an assessment of the need for housing support services. At least 7 SCPs make reference to the need to better join up their evidence bases and many make reference to the housing need and demand analysis (HNDA) matching up with the joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA). Midlothian SCP gives a good overview of their shared evidence base while Orkney refers to the work they have done to match up their data. South Lanarkshire also describe the work they are undertaking to utilize info they hold on House Condition survey alongside the HNDA and JSNA information. Dumfries and Galloway SCP states, “we will combine HNDA with JSNA to help plan….”

And the third requirement placed upon IJBs is about the production of Housing Contribution Statements. Inevitably different approaches have been made to the production of HCSs by the 31 IJBs across Scotland. Upon closer examination of the SCPs the picture is as follows:

  • 17 of the 31 SCPs contain a housing contribution statement
  • 11 Authorities have a separate HCS not contained within their SCP
  • 3 Authorities have not yet produced an HCS and the SCP says very little about the housing contribution

Common housing themes within SCPs/HCS include:

  • Housing supply/lack of affordable housing
  • The need to develop specialist models of housing (at least 9 SCPs refer to the requirement for extra care housing)
  • Homelessness/Complex needs

This issue features within at least 12 SCPs. In South Lanarkshire the IJB is to host health and homelessness services, while many other have this issue as a key priority within their plans moving forward. West Lothian SCP talks about the importance of housing options/homelessness services being closely aligned with health. Edinburgh SCP also discusses homelessness and complex needs, while Glasgow considers homelessness service reform and housing options. Perth and Kinross have a health and homelessness section within their SCP with statistics/shared evidence, while Renfrewshire plans to implement health and homelessness standards alongside its health and homelessness action plan. South Ayrshire has a health and homelessness staff nurse.

In conclusion, it would be fair to say that Housing is recognised in most plans as a key component of effectively shifting the balance of care from institutional care to community based services and supports. For some IJBs though, they will require a better understanding of the contribution made by the housing sector, including the 3 IJBs who have not yet produced a housing contribution statement.