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Social Housing Resilience Group update: 8 September

Update from latest SHRG meeting on key issues and areas of work. 

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The Social Housing Resilience Group (SHRG) was convened by SFHA in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

As well as SFHA, the SHRG comprises Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland, Scottish Housing Regulator, Wheatley Group, Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, and Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers. 

The SHRG aims to deal with the significant challenges the outbreak is causing so that social landlords can continue to provide the support their tenants and communities need. 

At the meeting held on 8 September, much of the discussion focused on the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government which was published the previous week. It was noted with approval that housing was acknowledged as an infrastructure issue and core to social and economic regeneration.

Among the proposals in the Programme for Government was the establishment of a £10 million Tenant Hardship Loan Fund. Detailed proposals have yet to be fleshed out, and consultations with stakeholders and regulatory authorities will need to take place (planned for next week). Some discussions have already taken place with organisations that may be able to administer the fund, which is envisaged as a backstop once other avenues such as Discretionary Housing Payments and the Scottish Welfare Fund have been explored. It is hoped the fund will be operational by the end of November. It was agreed that there are a number of key questions to be answered regarding the referral process, the maximum loan, the repayment regimen, and which tenures will be eligible.

The deadline for returns to the Scottish Housing Regulator’s monthly survey has just passed, and once it has carried out its validation checks on the returns, SHR will report the results at the next meeting.

The meeting noted the impact on stakeholders regrading the proposals to extend the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act. Thanks to representations by SFHA and others, ministers have agreed that the eviction notice period, on the grounds of anti-social and criminal behaviour, should revert to one month.

With regard to community resilience, the Housing Policy Circle is looking to gather views from those with lived experience. Public Health Scotland has established a working group to research the lived experience of survivors of domestic abuse and of refugees, focussing on the right and access to health services. Once ethical approval has been obtained, the research should be conducted by March 2021.

There was feedback from the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group that acknowledge progress had been made, with a need now to focus on opportunities for further progress. An update to the Government’s Ending Homelessness Together action plan is in preparation.

It was noted that the SHRG has performed a valuable service in co-ordination of an effective response by the social housing sector to the coronavirus pandemic. The SHRG will now assess what role it can play in the recovery process and in responding to further developments such as local lockdowns. 

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