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Social Housing Resilience Group weekly update: 14 May

Update on SHRG's work and key issues. 

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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, NHS 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. It 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. 

Originally meeting three times a week at the start of the pandemic, the SHRG is now meeting once a week on Tuesday afternoons.

The issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to be discussed. Concerns have been raised regarding its procurement and distribution in terms of rising prices and promised orders being diverted to other customers. The SHRG is arranging access to a new national procurement option for housing associations and SFHA has been able to make alternative routes available through its bank of commercial associates.

The first Covid-19 returns to the Scottish Housing Regulator were to be submitted by 7 May, with a very high response rate reported.

SFHA shared feedback from associations of their tenants’ experiences with energy suppliers, with the main issues being legacy payment meters and with specific suppliers. Scottish Government has raised these with Energy UK, which is expected to join a call with the SHRG in the next couple of weeks.

Working with the other UK housing federations, a letter has also been sent to UK Minister for Welfare Delivery, Will Quince, requesting that a fix to the Managed Payments to Landlords system be rolled out in order to ensure that tenants and social landlords are able to keep track of rent paid.

John Marr of UK Finance joined last week’s SHRG meeting to discuss flexibilities which may be required of lenders which were initially raised through SFHA’s Financial Resilience Group in early April. Mr Marr reassured, through discussions with SHR, that the sector is holding up well and in a generally sound financial position at this point in time. He advised the SHRG that the concerns raised by the Scottish sector were the right ones and echoed conversations taking place across the UK. UK Finance will continue to join discussions on these key issues with the Scottish sector as a fuller picture of the impact emerges in the months ahead.

Testing and tracing remains a key focus for Public Health Scotland. Clarification is being sought on access to testing for key workers in housing associations.

The SHRG is working on a response on behalf of the sector to the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Framework for Decision Making proposals.

Work is underway to review future plans and priorities for EEESH and the installation of smoke detectors in light of current restrictions. A subgroup of the SHRG will meet this week to consider what is needed to support the sector with these issues at this time.

SFHA is collecting examples of existing guidance on multi-storey flats and feeding it back to the Scottish Government which is preparing guidance. If you have any examples of information materials for tenants, such as posters and leaflets, please send these to SFHA Membership Engagement Co-ordinator Gillian Duddy gduddy@sfha.co.uk

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