Why we are engaging with City of Edinburgh Council (City of Edinburgh)
We are engaging with City of Edinburgh about its services for people who are homeless, service quality and tenant and resident safety.
The context in which councils are delivering services to people who are experiencing homelessness has become increasingly challenging in the last few years. In our December 2023 update to our thematic report on homelessness services in Scotland we set out that there is systemic failure in the delivery of some councils’ services to people experiencing homelessness. By this we mean that the demands on some local authorities now exceeds their capacity to respond. This is the case at City of Edinburgh. We will continue to monitor, assess and report on City of Edinburgh’s performance in discharging its duties to people who are homeless, and we will engage with the local authority to promote improvement where this is possible and to build on the improvements it has already made. We will engage with City of Edinburgh in particular about its provision of temporary accommodation to people who are homeless.
We are ready to work with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh and other stakeholders to identify and implement actions that will address the systemic issues affecting the delivery of homelessness services at City of Edinburgh.
During 2022/23 we reviewed and compared the data for all local authorities from the Scottish Government’s national homelessness statistics and the Annual Returns on the Charter. We also spoke to all local authorities to gather further information and assurance about their homelessness services. To assess the risks to people who are threatened with or experiencing homelessness we will engage with all local authorities during 2023/24 with a focus on the provision of appropriate temporary accommodation.
To assess the risk to social landlord services we have reviewed and compared the 2021/22 service quality performance of all social landlords to identify the weakest performing landlords. We will therefore engage with City of Edinburgh about complaints handling, repairs right first time and satisfaction with repairs, rent arrears and tenancy sustainment.
In July 2022, we contacted City of Edinburgh following media reports of dampness and mould in some of its high-rise blocks in Muirhouse and Moredun. City of Edinburgh shared an improvement plan that it had developed following a recent review of its approach to managing reports of dampness.
City of Edinburgh has made progress with its improvement plan, including recruiting additional resources to investigate and address reports of dampness and mould in tenants’ homes. City of Edinburgh has also told us about its plans to invest in retrofit and energy efficiency improvements across the city, including in Muirhouse and Moredun.
We are seeking assurance about City of Edinburgh’s understanding of the scale of dampness and mould across the city, and the steps it is taking to address this, including how it is managing reports of health concerns being raised by tenants.
City of Edinburgh does not fully comply with the electrical safety and fire detection requirements of the Scottish Housing Quality Standard. City of Edinburgh is currently progressing inspections to provide Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) and to install integrated smoke and heat alarms in all of its tenants’ homes.
City of Edinburgh is working openly and constructively with us.
What City of Edinburgh must
City of Edinburgh must:
- provide us with the information we require in relation to its homelessness service;
- continue best efforts to meet its statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation when it should and to comply with the Unsuitable Accommodation Order;
- keep us updated on its capacity to meet its statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation when it should and to comply with the Unsuitable Accommodation Order;
- review its performance for complaints handling, repairs right first time and satisfaction with repairs, rent arrears and tenancy sustainment and consider what improvement action it needs to take;
- provide us with the assurance that it has effective systems and processes for handling complaints about mould and dampness in its properties and that it is resolving any reported cases timeously and effectively; and
- provide us with monthly updates on progress on achieving compliance with electrical safety and fire detection requirements.
What we will do
- review the information City of Edinburgh provides about its homelessness service;
- meet with City of Edinburgh to discuss its homelessness service and decide whether we require any additional assurance;
- meet with City of Edinburgh to seek assurance about its best efforts to provide suitable temporary accommodation;
- review City of Edinburgh’s service quality performance as part of our 2023/24 risk assessment;
- meet with City of Edinburgh monthly to seek assurance it is dealing effectively with dampness and mould in its homes;
- review City of Edinburgh’s progress on achieving compliance with electrical safety and fire detection requirements; and
- update our published engagement plan in the light of any material change to our planned engagement with City of Edinburgh.
City of Edinburgh must provide us with the following annual regulatory returns:
- Annual Assurance Statement; and
- Annual Return on the Charter.
It should also notify us of any material changes to its Annual Assurance Statement, and any tenant and resident safety matter which has been reported to or is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive or reports from regulatory or statutory authorities or insurance providers, relating to safety concerns.