Update on roundtable discussions with Senior civil servant in the Scottish Government

As some of you will know, we’ve been holding a series of focused roundtable discussions with senior civil servants in the Scottish Government over the past few months. This update provides some more detail on a) how these sessions came about, and b) the model that has developed to date.

Following the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, Gareth James wrote to the new Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison MSP, to congratulate her on her appointment and also to introduce her to CaCHE. He took the opportunity to draw her attention to our report, Housing in Scotland: Evidence for Scottish Government 2021-26, and offered to meet with her and/or her officials should she wish to discuss further the evidence and proposals presented in the report. The Cabinet Secretary responded by suggesting a series of focused meetings to discuss each of our proposals in more depth. Working with the Government’s Head of Housing, Homelessness & Regeneration Analysis in the Communities Analysis Division, who also sits on our International Advisory Board, we developed a programme of seven roundtables. We’ve done three of these so far, including sessions on homelessness prevention, regulating the private rented sector, and designing neighbourhoods, and the level of discussion has been good and specialised. We’re grateful to colleagues – Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Pete Mackie, Jennifer Harris, Alex Marsh, James White, and Bilge Serin – for their extremely helpful and significant contributions to these meetings to date; and to Duncan MacLennan and Ken Gibb who will be presenting at the next meeting on Housing Wealth and Taxation. The model to date has typically involved two 20 minute presentations on the evidence underpinning our policy proposals, with each presentation followed by discussion, lasting in total for 1.5 hours.

We still have three sessions to organise and Gareth will be in touch with colleagues next week to make arrangements for these should you be interested in taking part. It’s a great way to get our research and the latest housing evidence to the heart of policy and decision-making processes and may be worth replicating in other parts of the UK, where possible.