Our chief executive, Michael Cameron, recently wrote a blog for Inside Housing on landlords getting ready to submit their first annual assurance statements.
You can read the blog below.
We are flipping the way regulation works in Scotland – here’s why
In October Scottish social landlords will submit their first assurance statements to the regulator. This marks a significant change in the way regulation works in the country, says Michael Cameron
We are flipping the way regulation works in Scotland – here’s why, writes Michael Cameron #ukhousing
Landlords in Scotland are giving a lot of thought right now to their first annual assurance statements. In April we introduced a new requirement for all social landlords to make an annual assurance statement. They will make their first statement by the end of October, declaring that they are assured they comply with regulatory requirements and standards, or disclosing where they need to improve. Assurance should be at the heart of governance in every organisation. This is about those responsible for governing the organisation obtaining accurate and current information about the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations and the status of its compliance with regulatory and statutory obligations. They should then provide appropriate assurance to other stakeholders.
In many ways, the annual assurance statement flips the position from the previous regulatory framework, from landlords having to tell us only when they weren’t complying with regulatory requirements to every landlord making a regular, transparent and proactive statement on their compliance.
The landlord’s board is responsible for making the annual assurance statement. It is important that the board owns the statement – it will be the board’s statement that it is assured.
A common response from board members of landlords in which we’ve had to intervene has been “we didn’t know”.
“In many ways, the annual assurance statement flips the position from the previous regulatory framework, from landlords having to tell us only when they weren’t complying with regulatory requirements to every landlord making a regular, transparent and proactive statement on their compliance”
Good governance is about board members knowing what they should be getting assurance on, knowing how to get it and then making sure that they do get it.
Of course no one expects board members to know all the detail of their organisation’s operations and performance, but it is essential that they know enough to be satisfied that the organisation is doing what it should be doing, and is doing it well.
Reliable information is the bedrock of assurance. Board members need to understand the information and data that is being presented to them and be sure that they can rely on it.
They need to be confident that they can use the information and data when making important decisions and when they authorise its submission to the regulator.
So, board members should ask questions about the data and information, including on when and how it was verified and, if necessary, whether it has been independently validated.
We have found a number of landlords that have used and submitted to us inaccurate or misleading information, including data and information on the condition and safety of tenants’ homes.
“Reliable information is the bedrock of assurance. Board members need to understand the information and data that is being presented to them and be sure that they can rely on it”
Such a situation is likely to result in us changing a landlord’s regulatory status away from compliant.
We believe that the annual assurance statement can help board members of landlords get the assurance they need that their organisation is well run and so delivers good outcomes for tenants, homeless people and others who use their services.
In Scotland we are working with landlord representatives to develop a toolkit to support board members to ask the questions that will help them get the assurance they need.