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Paper 28th August 2002 - BESAC(02)04



1. The purpose of this paper is to propose that an ongoing subgroup be set up to continuously review the statistical returns on housing which are obtained by the SE from councils. Members of BESAC are invited to comment on the suggested remit and membership of the proposed subgroup.


2. All of the data collected from councils by the SE housing statistics branch are National Statistics. Under the National Statistics code of practice data collections should be kept under regular review. Rather than having a one-off review every 5 years in which all returns are considered (as happened in the past) we feel that a mechanism for continually reviewing the data collections is required (albeit in practice it may mean that each form only gets reviewed once every 5 years). The last review was completed in 2000, with new and revised collections introduced in April 2001.

Proposed Subgroup

3. The suggested remit of the group is given at Annex 1. Although it is proposed that the groups work is limited to information which councils provide to SE at this stage, any reviews will bear in mind the information being gathered by Communities Scotland about RSLs, and where possible ensuring consistent definitions.

4. The suggested membership - in broad terms - is outlined in Annex 2. If content with the proposed organisations/groups to be involved, BESAC members are invited to suggest specific individuals to invite onto the subgroup.

Priorities for the Subgroup

5. Paper BESAC(01)02 listed all the housing returns which are collected by SE housing statistics branch. (These will also be described on the Housing Stats Branch page of the SE website which is being finalised, and should be available before the end of August - from which a copies of the blank forms can be downloaded). We see the initial priority for the group as being the review of the information which is collected on improvement issues, see Annex 3 for more details. In addition there is a need to review the information collected about stock transfers (see Annex 3), a possible need to review the information collected on sales information (depending on the deliberations of the working group on RTB sales [see paper BESAC(02)03]) and a possible need to review the information collected about Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) - again see Annex 3.


6. BESAC members are asked to comment on the proposal to set up a continuous subgroup to review SE statistical returns from councils and to comment on the proposed remit and membership.

Scottish Executive: August 2002

Proposed Remit

To continuously review the range of statistical housing information on housing which is collected from councils, bearing in mind the following:

  • ensuring there is a clear identified need for all information collected
  • ensuring that information is not available from other sources
  • minimising the burden on councils
  • where feasible ensuring consistency with any similar information collected from CS about RSLs
  • identifying ways of collecting information electronically

The subgroup will report to BESAC

The first priority for the group will be to review the returns on improvement issues.

Proposed Membership

  • SE Housing Stats - Deborah Pegg, Craig Sclater
  • Communities Scotland - Registration and Inspection, Christine Dugan, Other?
  • Local Authority User Reps
  • Local Authority Provide Reps
  • ?? Housing Best Value Network - R&D Co-ordinator, Angela Currie
  • Cosla Rep
  • SE Housing Policy - perhaps rotating depending on particular issue being considered
  • SE Housing Research
  • Academic research


Improvement Returns

The SE collects information from councils on various improvement issues. These returns are all in need of review.

Private Sector Improvements The SE collects detailed information on every private sector grant that is approved. In the light of the changes to the administration of private sector grants which will be introduced from April 2003 we need to review the information we are collecting about each grant.

Dwellings Below Tolerable Standard The SE has continued to gather information from councils on their estimates of the numbers of dwellings below the tolerable standard (by tenure and reasons for) although no information has been published since March 2000. In the light of the CRU research report on the quality of BTS estimates, a review of the information collected is required.

Housing Action Areas The SE continues to collect information on housing action areas (HAA). In the past detailed information was collected about the annual progress on each individual HAA, although in the last 3 years (since 2000) summary information only has been collected. We have found that there has been very little interest for along time in this information, and we therefore wish to review the need for this information.

Improvements to Public Sector Stock The SE collects information from councils on tenders accepted for improvements and repairs under the HRA programme. Again this information is little used, the quality is very questionable and councils seem to have difficulties in providing the information. There is a need to review the need for this information.

Stock Transfers

The SE collects information (annually through the Sales 2 return) about non-sitting tenant sales and transfers of council stock. There is possible need to review this return - or at least to assess the quality of the information being received. We have very few requests for this information - suspect that there alternative sources for transfer numbers and if so do we need to continue to collect - and many councils fail to submit returns.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

A new annual return on HMOs was introduced following the commencement of the mandatory licensing scheme. The return collects basic information about numbers and types of licenses in force at the end of the year. Now that the scheme has been running for 18 months, there is a need to have more information about the effect on quality and standards which the need for a license is having on the, in particular, the private sector stock. It may be that such information cannot be obtained via a statistical return and that research is required. However, following discussions with policy colleagues in SE an assessment will me made of any possible changes to the statistical return which may be useful and these in turn could be considered by the subgroup.