Welcome from our Chair & Chief Executive
We restated our Corporate Plan 2019-22 in 2020 in response to the pandemic. In the continued context of the pandemic we are now setting a Strategy to roll on from that plan to take us through the next year.
Social landlords continue to build back the services they provide to tenants and to address backlogs that came about due to the restrictions they had to operate within in response to the pandemic. In addition to this, we know that landlords will have to respond to a range of new and emerging challenges, including the climate emergency and the drive to decarbonise heating in homes, managing growing problems in supply chains for materials and labour, and the most challenging economic context in a generation with a range of inflationary pressures. Many tenants and their families are facing increasing financial hardship with significant pressures on their household incomes from increasing costs, most notably for domestic energy. Given this, the coming period looks like it may be a very difficult time for many tenants and their families, and it may be the most testing that social landlords have had to face. We welcome sector-led initiatives such as developing building safety indicators and the exploration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting as assurance tools.
Agility and responsiveness will be increasingly important as landlords adapt to the world that is emerging from the pandemic and in response to the war in Ukraine. Building and testing organisational resilience, including the capacity to handle unexpected events, have become even more critical elements of business planning. Landlords will need to understand what their organisation will need to do to be resilient and to stay resilient. We are starting to give some thought to what a regulatory focus on resilience might look like.
In our Strategy we set out what we will do and how we will use our resources. We remain committed to safeguarding and promoting the interests of tenants, people who are or have experienced homelessness, and others who use services provided by social landlords. We believe that our approach to regulation and the priorities we set in this strategy can continue to support social landlords to recover from the pandemic.
We will continue working closely with all our stakeholders to support the recovery in social housing and deliver shared goals. And we look forward to working with all of our people in SHR to deliver this strategy.
George Walker, Chair
Michael Cameron, Chief Executive
Our objective, priorities & vision
Our Statutory Objective:
To safeguard and promote the interests of current and future tenants of social landlords, people who are or may become homeless, and people who use housing services provided by registered social landlords (RSLs) and local authorities.
Well-run social landlords delivering what tenants, people who are homeless, Gypsy/Travellers and others who use social housing services need and want, and at a price they can afford to pay.
- The quality of the homes social landlords provide and with that the safety of tenants and residents, including the standards of Gypsy/Traveller sites
- Landlords’ discharge of their duties to people who are or have experienced homelessness, with a particular focus on duties to provide temporary and settled accommodation
- Landlords’ recovery from the pandemic including handling of any backlogs in housing services
- Rent affordability and value for money
- Governance & financial health in RSLs with a focus on business planning
- Being an effective public body
We will achieve our objective & priorities, which have been informed by tenants and other stakeholders by:
- promoting a strong tenant voice;
- supporting landlords to do the right things for their tenants, people who are homeless and other service users; and
- taking effective, proportionate action where we need to protect tenants and others
Our work will help to maintain lenders’ and funders’ confidence in social housing. It will also contribute to the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes.
What we will do
Supporting the recovery in social housing from the impact of Coronavirus
We will continue to adjust and align our approach to the pandemic and national response, keeping work plans under review as the situations develops. We will:
- continue to provide relevant advice and updates to social landlords; and
- support the work of the Scottish Government and Social Housing Resilience Group in coordinating the national response.
Empowering tenants & others
We will help to empower tenants, people who are or have experienced homelessness, Gypsy/Travellers and others by:
- publishing the landlord performance data we gather in open, useful and accessible ways;
- providing them with tools to use the data we publish to help them better understand, compare and challenge their landlord’s performance, and we will continue to develop these tools;
- continuing to provide an effective way for tenants to raise concerns about landlord significant performance failures; and
- promoting to landlords the importance of involving tenants and others who use their services in the scrutiny of their performance to inform their self-assurance and the development of services.
We will be keeping a strong focus on people who are or have experienced homelessness by:
- engaging and working with groups that represent and support people who are homeless; and
- talking openly about the things that people who are or have experienced homelessness tell us are important.
We will promote a strong tenant voice by:
- engaging with our National Panel of Tenants & Service Users to better understand their priorities and experiences;
- working with our tenant advisors to bring the tenant perspective to our work;
- engaging with the regional networks of Registered Tenant Organisations;
- engaging and working with tenant advocacy groups; and
- talking openly about the things that tenants tell us are important.
We will be keeping a strong focus on Gypsy/Travellers by:
- monitoring landlords’ achievement of the minimum standards for sites;
- engaging and working with groups that represent and support Gypsy/Travellers; and
- talking openly about the things that Gypsy/Travellers tell us are important.
Getting assurance from landlords
We will get assurance by:
- using Annual Assurance Statements from all social landlords to inform our assessment of risk in each landlord;
- monitoring, assessing and reporting on social landlords’ performance on:
- the Scottish Social Housing Charter
- discharging their statutory duties to provide timely and sustainable access to social housing to people who are or have experienced homelessness
- standards relating to quality and safety of homes and Gypsy/Traveller sites;
- monitoring, assessing and reporting on RSL financial health and governance;
- developing a programme of assurance visits to RSLs and local authorities when conditions allow; and
- maintaining a focus on our priorities through our risk assessment, including on rent affordability and value for money.
We will promote and support effective landlord self-assurance by:
- publishing statutory & advisory guidance as required to assist RSLs and local authorities to build capacity and drive improvement;
- collaborating with stakeholders to provide a toolkit to support landlord self-assurance and compliance with regulatory requirements; and
- working with others, including Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, HSE, OSCR, Audit Scotland, SPSO, Care Inspectorate, investors in social housing and the Scottish Government.
We will be transparent by:
- publishing proportionate and detailed engagement plans for every RSL and local authority; and
- publishing our regulatory judgement in engagement plans for all RSLs
Taking action when we need to
We will act effectively and proportionately by:
- engaging with landlords where we see risks to the interests of tenants, homeless people, Gypsy/Travellers and others who use landlords’ services;
- engaging with investors and funders and with our other stakeholders as set out in our Regulatory Framework to protect the interests of tenants and maintain confidence in the sector;
- using our statutory powers to protect those interests when we judge that to be appropriate and necessary;
- responding effectively when tenants raise concerns about significant performance failures; and
- being open to, and responding to, people who bring concerns about landlords to us, including whistleblowers.
We will encourage landlords to:
- promote a culture in which governing body members and staff can constructively challenge the performance of their organisation;
- engage with us early when they face challenges; and
- work constructively with us when we need to engage with them.
Our powers include:
- requesting information;
- making inquiries;
- setting a performance improvement target (for one or more landlords);
- requiring a performance improvement plan;
- serving an enforcement notice;
- appointing a manager; and
- appointing a governing body member to an RSL.
We won’t normally need to use our statutory powers where a social landlord is able and willing to investigate and resolve any issues, and it engages with us effectively.
Carrying out thematic work
We use thematic work to look in depth at specific areas of social landlords’ work. This helps us raise awareness of our priorities, emerging issues, lessons from serious casework and other things that tenants and service users tell us matter most. Thematic work also informs our advisory guidance and risk assessments and lets us share positive practice.
- From 2022 we will start to develop a programme of thematic work and information with a clear focus on our priorities.
Promoting equality & human rights
- continue to work with stakeholders to develop a framework for equality and human rights in social housing to support landlords to effectively embed equality and human rights in how they run their organisations and deliver services, including holding up to date profile information to inform this;
- require social landlords to confirm through their Annual Assurance Statement that they meet the requirements around equality and human rights, or what they are doing to improve;
- seek assurance that landlords are giving due regard to equality and human rights in their decision-making through our engagements with individual landlords;
- consider using our thematic work to assess and report on landlords’ work to achieve the equalities outcome in the Scottish Social Housing Charter and to meet their legal duties in relation to equality and human rights; and
- refresh our own equalities statement (currently up to 2022).
How we will work
Our approach to our work is underpinned by a set of core values and principles:
- Open and transparent
- Risk based
- Evidence based judgements
- Effective and efficient
- Effective governance and financial stewardship
We are committed to the better regulation principles enshrined in the Scottish Regulators’ Strategic Code of Practice.
- Support our people to work in new ways, while helping them to maintain a good work / life balance
- Be visible & accessible, including using virtual platforms when necessary
- Be clear on what we require of social landlords
- Consider updates to our How we work publications
- Use our website & use social media platforms effectively
- Maintain effective IT systems to support our regulatory operation ensuring these are compliant with licensing requirements and continually developing to support business needs
- Maintain our cyber resilience
- Look for opportunities to work collaboratively with others
- Share & promote positive practice
- Provide a secure way for landlords to submit information to us
- Make the data we collect as freely accessible to others as possible
- Continue to publish annual summaries of our work plans
- Continue to learn lessons from all our work and from how we work during the pandemic
We will maintain our cyber resilience by working with our suppliers on appropriate preventative measures, retaining our Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation, and ensuring good staff awareness and effective incident management arrangements.
Our public body duties
We will be an effective public body, and we will model good governance and financial stewardship.
Our duties and responsibilities as a Scottish public body include:
- SPSO complaints handling and reporting
- Records Management & Information Security
- Digital & Cyber Resilience
- Climate Change and biodiversity
- Public Service Reform
- Freedom of Information
- Data Protection
- Business Continuity
- Health & Safety
- Corporate Parenting
We will use our resource effectively and efficiently to deliver our regulatory priorities and public body duties. Our revenue budget for 2022/23 is £4.92m, of which around 83% is staff costs, and a capital budget of £0.2m.
- our Chair supported by our Non-Executive Directors
- our 52 FTE employees
- our Tenant Advisors
- the independent members of our Advisory Appeal Panel
We will also look to our:
- National Panel of more than 400 tenants and service users
- Regional Network SHR Liaison Group
- Selection list of potential statutory managers
We continue to be grateful and seek the input of volunteer statutory governing body members (mostly drawn from the social housing sector) who work to strengthen governance and protect the interests of tenants.
Through risk-based regulation, we prioritise our resources and plan how to engage with RSLs & local authorities through further scrutiny, engagement or use of our powers.
How we will know we have been effective
We know we have been effective if:
- We do the right things and we do them well, and respond in the right way when the interests of tenants, people who are or have experienced homelessness, Gypsy/Travellers and factored owners are at risk.
- We manage any landlord failures to ensure tenants and service users do not suffer serious detriment, for example, losing their status as social housing tenants.
- Our stakeholders have confidence in how we regulate.
- We are open, transparent and accountable on our approach and performance.
- We influence others to focus on our priorities.