A new report gives an insight into the experiences and views of Gypsy/Travellers living on social landlords’ sites across Scotland. The research is the final in the series from the Scottish Housing Regulator’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users.
Most Gypsy/Travellers who took part expressed concerns about their site. The most common concerns were around the overall condition and cleanliness of sites and a view that sites have suffered from a lack of investment. This view was most pronounced for those sites which did not meet the Scottish Government’s minimum site standards.
The research also suggests that Gypsy/Travellers have limited awareness of the minimum site standards. The standards cover physical facilities and services. Just over 1 in 10 of all those interviewed had heard of the standards. Most felt that Gypsy/Travellers would benefit from access to information about them.
Participants said that site location, the mix of residents and sense of community, and on-site wardens were the main positives for current site provision.
George Walker, the Regulator’s Chair, said: “The findings we published today about sites for Gypsy/Travellers add to the growing sense that, in spite of achieving the minimum standards set by the Scottish Government, some of the sites do not adequately meet the needs and cultural requirements of this community.
“The Scottish Government is considering a review of the standards for sites and we see this as an important opportunity to empower Gypsy/Travellers, for them to determine what is required for homes that genuinely meet their needs.”
The report comes as the Regulator publishes updated engagement plans showing that more sites now comply with minimum standards. Sites run by Argyll Community Housing Association, Highland Council and West Dunbartonshire Council now meet the standards. This means that 23 out of 28 sites run by social landlords now meet the standards.
Five sites run by four social landlords still do not meet the standards. The Regulator is continuing to engage with all four landlords.
The Regulator has also written to all landlords with sites to get further assurance around their compliance with fire safety requirements.
The National Panel research was carried out by Engage Scotland, who run the National Panel on the Regulator’s behalf. Engage interviewed 55 Gypsy/Travellers across 10 sites.
This is the last of four themed reports from the National Panel. The first looked at tenant participation and digital access; the second at the experiences of users of homelessness services; and the third looked at rent affordability.
Today the Regulator has also published a report which gives a summary of all of the recent Panel research.
The Panel has around 425 members. It is open to anyone who is a social housing tenant or uses social landlords’ services. Membership is diverse and includes people from urban and rural areas, across age bands, local authority and RSL tenants.
Anyone interested in joining the Panel should contact Engage Scotland on 0800 433 7212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
1. The Scottish Housing Regulator was established on 1 April 2011 under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010. Its objective is to safeguard and promote the interests of tenants and others who use local authority and RSL housing services. The Regulator operates independently of Scottish Ministers and is accountable directly to the Scottish Parliament. It assumed its full regulatory responsibilities on 1 April 2012. The Regulator consists of the Chair and eight Board members. More information about the Regulator can be found on its website at www.scottishhousingregulator.gov.uk
2. SHR regulates around 160 registered social landlords and the housing activities of 32 local authorities.
3. SHR sets out its approach to regulation in its published Regulatory Framework – Regulation of Social Housing in Scotland.
4. The minimum standards cover two broad areas:
• physical facilities and fabric, including the quality of fixtures and fittings, lighting, heating, and a hot and cold water supply; and
• services provided by the site provider and how it treats site tenants.
5. More information on the minimum site standards is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/improving-gypsy-traveller-sites-guidance-minimum-sites-standards-site-tenants/pages/3/.
6. SHR’s report on social landlords’ progress towards meeting minimum site standards at October 2018 is available at https://www.scottishhousingregulator.gov.uk/landlord-performance/national-reports/thematic-work/social-landlords-progress-towards-meeting-minimum-site-standards-for-gypsytravellers.
7. Today SHR has published updated engagement plans for Argyll Community Housing Association, West Dunbartonshire Council and Highland Council, whose sites now meet the minimum standards. It has also published updated engagement plans for three of the four landlords whose sites still do not meet the standards - Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, and Scottish Borders Council. It will publish an updated engagement plan for the remaining landlord, Dumfries and Galloway Council, in early September, which will incorporate an update on the outcome of other current regulatory work with this landlord.
8. All of the Regulator’s recent reports from the National Panel of Service Users including the summary of all of its recent research with the Panel are available on its website at https://www.scottishhousingregulator.gov.uk/for-tenants/how-we-involve-tenants-and-service-users