Annual Report and Accounts 2020-2021

Published

19 November 2021

Updated

19 November 2021

Welcome message

Welcome to our annual report and accounts for 2020/21.

As we reflect on 2020/21 the pandemic and how it impacted all our lives is at the forefront. We continue to recognise the unprecedented circumstances in which social landlords are operating. During the year we worked to re-align our regulatory approach in response to the Coronavirus crisis, working with the Social Housing Resilience Group.

We made temporary adjustments to our Regulatory Framework and restated our Corporate Plan to reflect the impact of the pandemic on our work. Throughout the year we collected monthly information from social landlords about the impact of the pandemic and published this to help the Social Housing Resilience Group and Scottish Government respond to the pandemic. We provided a range of guidance and advice for landlords to support them in their response.

Alongside this we continued to regulate, focusing on the most critical cases and risks that emerged during the pandemic.

We completed our statutory interventions in Ruchazie Housing Association and ended the statutory manager appointments at Thistle Housing and Fairfield Housing Associations, while maintaining the support from voluntary statutory appointees in both organisations. We published our inquiry report on homelessness services at Glasgow City Council. We also published our National Report on the Charter and findings from our research with our national Panel of Tenants and Service Users.

In March 2021, following a risk assessment, we published refreshed engagement plans for all landlords and for the first time a regulatory status for all Registered Social Landlords. We found that 140 landlords are compliant (two under review) and seven are working towards compliance. In addition at the 31st March 2021 we were using our statutory powers to intervene in two RSLs.

Looking ahead to 2021/22 and beyond, recovery and resetting from the impact of the pandemic will be a major feature for us all. Brexit continues to present risks and uncertainties. Homelessness and the safety of tenants and residents will remain priorities for us, and climate change and carbon zero initiatives are high on the agenda, with COP26* as an important backdrop. We will take account of housing policy following the 2021 Scottish elections and the Scottish Government’s Housing to 2040 strategy. It’s safe to say there is a lot going on and the expectations of social landlords from customers and government continue to grow.

In February 2021, we said goodbye and thank you to Board member Mike Dailly, when he completed his final term. We look forward to supporting recruitment of new Board members during 2021/22, with a specific focus on achieving a better gender balance on our Board.

We would like to thank our resilient and professional staff team, Board members and all the tenants, services users and stakeholders who have worked with us during this challenging year. We also thank all those who have served as statutory appointees; they are all volunteers drawn from the sector and are key to supporting landlords that are working to improve.

The pandemic brought into sharp focus how important social landlords are in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland. We wish to pay tribute to the hard work of all those who work and volunteer in social housing in Scotland.

George Walker, Chair and Michael Cameron, Chief Executive

*COP 26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties which is expected to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow on 1- 12 November 2021

Who we are and what we do

Who we are

We are the independent regulator of social landlords in Scotland. Social landlords are made up of registered social landlords (RSLs) – housing associations and co-operatives – and local authorities (LAs) that provide housing and homelessness services.

What we do

We regulate 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 RSLs and local authorities.

We regulate social landlords by:

  • keeping a register of social landlords and making this available for the public – all landlords on the register need to meet regulatory requirements
  • monitoring, assessing and reporting on how well social landlords are run and how they manage their money – we call this governance and financial health
  • taking action, where we need to, to protect the interests of tenants and other service users

We do this in a way that:

  • is proportionate, accountable and transparent - this means we are open about how we work and we take responsibility for our decisions;
  • is targeted – this means we only take action where it is needed;
  • encourages treating people fairly and promotes equal opportunities; and
  • is consistent with the Scottish Regulators’ Strategic Code of Practice

Who we are

Watch a video about who we are and what we do

A summary overview of our performance and achievements

We managed risk by:

  • focussing on anything that might prevent us from achieving our statutory objective
  • immediately adjusting our regulatory response, aligning to the unprecedented circumstances that social landlords were facing as a consequence of the pandemic
  • making temporary changes to our Regulatory Framework, allowing landlords more time to complete regulatory returns and providing guidance and advice where relevant
  • working with the Social Housing Resilience Group to respond to the pandemic, informing that group and Scottish Government through a monthly dashboard on the impact of the pandemic on landlords

We empowered tenants, people who are homeless, Gypsy/Travellers and others by:

  • promoting messages about the financial pressure on tenants
  • meeting with our Regional Network SHR Liaison Group and participating in virtual events with tenant organisations
  • carrying out research with our National Panel of Tenants and Service Users
  • publishing a suite of performance information on landlords’ performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charter
  • modernising our online landlord comparison tool to make information more accessible
  • publishing videos about our refreshed plan on how we involved tenants and others in our work
  • continuing appointment of our tenant advisors
  • receiving and investigating reports from tenants on significant performance failures

We sought assurance by:

  • updating critical landlord engagement plans during 2020/21
  • publishing our national analysis of landlords’ performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charter as well as refreshed landlord reports for every social landlord, data tables and comparison tool and new technical guidance for landlords
  • publishing the second annual assurance statements on regulatory requirement compliance for all social landlords
  • carrying out a risk assessment of all landlords and publishing information about the risks that we are focusing on analysing the financial health of RSLs
  • writing to all LAs around emergency arrangements for people at risk of homelessness or sleeping rough over the winter
  • publishing engagement plans for all social landlords from March 2021 including, for the first time, a regulatory status for all RSLs

We took action to protect the interests of tenants and others when we:

  • ended the appointment of a statutory manager and continued the use of statutory powers in Fairfield Housing Association through four statutory appointees to support continued delivery of improvements
  • completed our intervention at Ruchazie Housing Association and directed a transfer of homes and assets from Thistle Housing Association to Sanctuary Scotland
  • published a report on our inquiry into Glasgow City Council’s homelessness services
  • deregistered Wishaw & District and Arklet following transfers to other social landlords
  • responded to whistleblowing concerns raised with us and reported on these

We raised awareness and shared positive practice by:

  • reaffirming our commitment to commence a programme of thematic work in 2021/22 (subject to easing of pandemic related restrictions) in our restated corporate plan published in August 2020
  • providing clear and up to date guidance for landlords during the pandemic on governance, fraud, safety, cyber security, business planning and inputting to Social Housing Resilience Group discussions as issues emerged

We promoted equalities and human rights by:

  • facilitating human rights awareness training sessions by the Scottish Human Rights Commission for our staff & Board
  • continuing our commitment to the Scottish Government’s gender balance objective for public boards as we plan for the next recruitment campaign in 2021/22 and first reporting on gender equality in April 2021
  • recognising the impact of the pandemic, requiring updates from landlords on human rights and equalities in the annual assurance statements that landlords will submit to us in October 2021
  • supporting the SFHA in its consultation for guidance for collecting equalities guidance for Scottish social landlords, which is due to be finalised in 2021/22
  • publishing a refreshed report on our corporate parent duties and reporting on what have done around the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

We demonstrated we were an effective public body by:

  • achieving substantial assurance from our internal auditor and an unqualified audit opinion from our external auditor
  • giving evidence to and responding to scrutiny from the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee
  • maintaining high engagement scores in the 2020 Civil Service people survey
  • ensuring our Management Team monitored our performance monthly, and our Board on a quarterly basis
  • aligning with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s refreshed model complaint handling procedures
  • investing in the IT systems that support our work by launching an enhanced landlord directory section on our website and a specific news section for Covid, as well as continuing to invest in our landlord portal
  • maintaining our Cyber Essentials Plus certification
  • continuing our work on being a Carer Positive employee
  • supporting our staff to work remotely
  • submitting our climate change return and reporting on biodiversity duties
  • keeping our stakeholders up to date through @shr_news and our SHR update e-zine

Performance Analysis

4.1 Risk Profile

We manage risks to SHR through actively considering our risk register and using our operating plan to plan any mitigating actions. This work is led each month by our Management Team with regular input from our Audit & Risk Assurance Committee and Board.

We currently have one overarching risk, which is that we do not achieve our statutory objective. Below that sit seven additional risks covering our resources, services we receive, our Regulatory Framework, stakeholder support, business failure, public body compliance and the impact of developments out with our control. During 2020/21, risks in relation to our resources trended up most, reflecting our budget position for most of the year and the impact of the pandemic on the level of regulatory engagement needed and our capacity. We expect this will be helped by the likely easing of pandemic restrictions such as school closures and our budget settlement for 2021/22, which will allow us to recruit and fill vacancies that we have carried for some time.

During 2020/21, like everyone else, we faced key risks around the pandemic. We sought to respond quickly.

From 17 March 2020 we moved our people to work from home. We were able to continue to deliver our business priorities immediately. As the situation progressed and the arrangements became more long term, we ensured that our team had the additional equipment they needed to support them, such as office chairs, monitors etc.

As the pandemic hit, we recognised the unprecedented circumstances that social landlords were facing as a consequence of the pandemic. They were working very hard to manage and mitigate the impact on their operations and to safeguard their tenants, people who are homeless and other service users. We immediately changed our regulatory response to align to the new circumstances. We increased the frequency of our Board meetings.

We postponed the publication of our updated engagement plans due for 31 March 2020 for all but the most critical of cases to allow landlords and ourselves to focus on the most serious existing risks and those that emerged from the pandemic. We did update some engagement plans during the year to reflect significant changes in our engagement casework and we published all these on our website. We postponed and extended submission dates for regulatory returns from landlords.

We helped form and participated in the Social Housing Resilience Group. At the outset the group was convening daily to respond to the evolving and significant challenges of the pandemic. We moved quickly to focus on monitoring the impact on landlords, establishing a monthly data collection and publically available reporting dashboard to inform the Resilience Group and Scottish Government. This covered key information around RSL staffing, rent arrears, empty homes, lets, court actions, notice of proceedings and homelessness services in local authorities.

We established a new section on our website for all relevant Coronavirus news including guidance that we provided to social landlords covering areas such as cyber security, gas safety and governance of RSLs. We continue to keep that guidance updated.

In August, following a consultation, we made some temporary changes to our Regulatory Framework. This allowed landlords to have more time to complete their Annual Assurance Statements and also to report to tenants and services users on their performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charter. To support this we published new advice for landlords on completing the statements and on business planning. We also restated our own 2019 – 22 Corporate Plan to reflect the changes to our work plans.

Our response to the pandemic was also set out in Audit Scotland’s summary document alongside other members of the Strategic Scrutiny Group.

Looking across the operating environment for local authorities and RSLs we see potential risks around:

  • financial sustainability
  • the cessation of LIBOR
  • possible supply chain disruption, increased costs and labour shortages/demographic issues, development programme delays
  • cyber security
  • increased expectations and standards to meet including demand for health and social care services as a result of the pandemic that could impact local authority budgets
  • changing expectations and needs of services users
  • affordability
  • homelessness
  • investment in existing homes and finding the resources required to comply with EESSH 2

All of these could result in governance failures, financial pressures, cyber-attacks and highlight poor resilience and preparedness. We will focus our future engagement to support landlords in these areas.

4.2 Our Regulatory & Corporate Priorities - Empowering Tenants and others

At the heart of our work and all the decisions we make are tenants and others who use services provided by social landlords. This includes people who are Gypsy/Travellers as well as people who are at risk of, or are, experiencing homelessness.

In July 2020 we published a new plan with an accompanying summary video setting out how we involve tenants and service users in our work. We continue to use a variety of initiatives to help us understand tenants’ and service users’ views and priorities.

We worked with our National Panel of over 450 tenants and service users to hear directly about the experiences of a diverse range of tenants, people who are homeless and others. The feedback suggested an upward trend in the financial pressures tenants are facing, with higher levels of concerns about future financial circumstances. Nearly a third of National Panel members who took part said they were not managing well with their housing costs, including rent, energy bills and other housing-related costs. The homelessness aspect of this research highlighted the diverse nature of people’s circumstances and needs when accessing services, their emotional needs and the impact of support from service staff.

The survey work took place before lockdown and we expect that COVID-19 will have heightened these pressures. We commenced new survey work with the panel again in January 2021 and will report on the findings in the first half of 2021/22. The Panel is open to anyone who is a social housing tenant or uses social landlords’ services.

We used this feedback to help shape our risk assessment and engagement with landlords.

Iain Muirhead, Director of Digital and Business Support, when promoting the National Panel finding said: “It is vital that social landlords continue to work with tenants to ensure the rent they charge is at a level tenants can afford to pay.

”Ian Brennan, Director of Regulation, said at the Social Housing Scottish Annual Conference in September: ”..Before passing costs onto tenants we think it’s incumbent upon all RSLs to look closely at how they can manage their businesses efficiently to ensure that rent levels are kept as affordable as possible.”

The Covid-19 restrictions have made it more difficult for all of us to engage as we normally would, so we have been keeping in touch with our stakeholders in other more remote ways while restrictions have been in place. Our staff and some of our Board members met with the Regional Network SHR Liaison Group virtually during 2020/21. They contributed to our consultation on the temporary changes we made to our Regulatory Framework and provided us with tenants’ perspective on how landlords responded during the pandemic. We have also participated in some Webinars hosted by tenant advocacy bodies.

Our online comparison tool lets tenants find out about their landlord’s performance in the areas that they have told us matter most: homes and rents, quality and maintenance, neighbourhood management, tenant satisfaction and value for money. We upgraded the tool to make it easier to use on different devices and assistive technologies such as a mobile phones and screen readers.

A group of tenants can report directly to us if they consider that their landlord has had a Significant Performance Failure. We will investigate this and engage with the landlord where improvements are required. In 2020/21 we received one report and on investigation and engagement with the landlord concerned we did not find a failure. We have published information leaflets and a video on our website for tenants and landlords on what an SPF is, how to report it to us and what we will then do.

Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to work directly with our pool of independent, volunteer tenant advisors, so we have extended their current appointments until March 2022. We also have plans to refresh our pool of tenant advisors during 2021/22.

4.3 Our Regulatory & Corporate Priorities - Getting Assurance

In addition to the work we did directly in response to the pandemic set out in 4.1, we also continued to fulfil our function to monitor and report on social landlord performance and seek assurance around compliance with regulatory requirements.

In response to the impact of the pandemic, we moved the deadline for submitting the Annual Return on the Charter (ARC) to the end of July 2020 and the date for publication of our National Report and landlord reports to the end of October 2020. The pandemic did not materially affect landlords’ performance over the period we reported on, which was up to 31 March 2020. We expect this will be very different when we report on the data up to March 2021, which landlords will submit to us by May 2021.

For the period April 2019 – March 2020 we reported:

  • almost 9 out of 10 tenants were satisfied with the homes and services their landlord provides
  • 10 out of 15 Charter standards and outcomes were maintained or improved (included two new indicators)
  • emergency repairs response time - unchanged - 3.6 hours
  • tenants satisfied with the quality of their homes - decreased - 87%
  • tenants satisfied that their rent is good value for money - improved - 84%
  • average weekly rent - increased - £81.13
  • tenants satisfied with their landlord's neighbourhood management - unchanged - 88%
  • anti-social behaviour* cases which were resolved - unchanged - 94%
  • first stage complaints* responded to in full - improved - 84%
  • average planned rent increases 2020/21 down from 3% last year to 2.5%

*indicators amended since last year

Energy Efficiency Standard in Social Housing is a major contribution to ensuring tenants and their families have warm, affordable homes. Effective monitoring of progress towards the Scottish Government’s EESSH2 2032 Standard is therefore an important priority. This year we consulted on indicators to allow us to monitor and report on social landlords’ progress. We will collect the new indicators during 2021/22.

We set out in November 2020 the focus of our annual risk assessment, which we use to determine the assurance we need from landlords and what they may need to do to improve. We looked at how they were responding to the pandemic, and the information provided in their annual assurance statements. We focused on tenant and resident safety, rent affordability good governance and financial health and how local authorities meet their duties to provide homes for people who are threatened with, or experiencing, homelessness. We also focused on how social landlords deliver for Gypsy/Travellers and the need for landlords to meet the minimum standards and fire safety requirements for the people who use their sites.

Helen Shaw, Assistant Director, said “Tenant and resident safety, rent affordability as well as good governance and financial health all remain important priorities in our assessment of risk this year. We will continue to have a strong focus on how local authorities meet their duties to provide homes for people who are threatened with, or experiencing, homelessness.

In December we published the annual statements submitted by social landlords to confirm that they meet our regulatory standards and requirements or to set out how they will address any areas of non-compliance. We had extended submission deadlines from October to November in response to the pandemic.

Michael Cameron, Chief Executive at the Regulator said “We recognise the efforts landlords have made to prepare and submit their statements during the pandemic. We hope the process has helped them to identify the extent to which COVID-19 has impacted on their ability to deliver services and comply with requirements, and that this supports their recovery planning.

“We will assess the Statements as part of our annual risk assessment and start publishing Engagement Plans for each landlord from the end of March 2021. This will include a regulatory status for RSLs. In doing so we will take account of any non-compliance which is due to the pandemic.”

In December we also wrote to all local authorities about services to people who are threatened with, or are experiencing homelessness, encouraging them to contact us if they anticipated any actual or potential difficulties in maintaining access to homelessness services during the festive break and winter period, including being able to provide access to emergency or temporary accommodation if required, and supporting people who may face the prospect of rough sleeping. We engaged with the small number of LAs whose monthly returns indicated they had failed to offer temporary accommodation when required during the pandemic to get assurance they were taking steps to ensure they had sufficient accommodation to meet demand.

We also reported on our analysis of annual RSL loan portfolio returns in December 2020. We found that lender and investor appetite to fund RSLs remains strong. RSLs have a total of £6.2 billion in debt facilities, with £5.2 billion of this debt drawn and £1.0 billion undrawn. RSLs raised £802 million of new loans during 2019/20 from banks and capital markets. The vast majority was for investment in existing housing and to fund new housing developments. RSLs are also forecasting increased borrowing to fund future development programmes. We found the sector continues to attract new investors. We also published audited financial statements for each RSL and aggregated tables and a complete dataset of the audited financial statements.

Shaun Keenan, Assistant Director of Regulation said: “With around £1 billion of undrawn facilities and healthy cash balances the sector is well placed to deal with the immediate financial challenges of COVID-19. Given these challenges it is important that RSLs have an effective approach to Treasury Management, not only to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements but also to deliver best value for their tenants and residents.”

From 31 March 2021 we published the outcome of our annual risk assessment in new engagement plans for all local authorities and RSLs. These plans set out the outcome of our risk assessment, why we are working with any landlord, what it needs to do and provide to us and for the first time, in line with our Regulatory Framework, a regulatory status for every RSL.

This year’s annual risk assessment took place within the unprecedented context of a global pandemic. Most social landlords moved at pace to adapt to the new and challenging environment in which they found themselves operating.

No RSLs Status What this means
140 Compliant (two under review)

The RSL meets the Standards of Governance and Financial Management and regulatory requirements.

7 Working towards compliance

The RSL does not meet the Standards of Governance and Financial Management and regulatory requirements, and it is working to achieve compliance.

2 Statutory Action

The RSL does not meet the Standards of Governance and Financial Management and regulatory requirements, and we are using statutory powers to address the non-compliance.

We are engaging with landlords to get the necessary assurance about the effectiveness of their plans to respond to areas of noncompliance and this is set out in individual engagement plans.

4.4 Our Regulatory & Corporate Priorities - Taking action when we need to

During 2020/21, we completed statutory intervention in Ruchazie and it remains an independent organisation. We plan to publish accounts of our interventions in Wishaw & District, Arklet and Ruchazie during 2021/22.

Speaking of the improvements at Ruchazie, Margaret Sharkey, Assistant Director of Regulation said: “Ruchazie has worked hard to make the necessary improvements. With the support of the statutory appointments Ruchazie has improved its governance and financial management and is now compliant with regulatory requirements. So we have ended our statutory appointments to the governing body.”

At 31 March 2021 we were using our statutory powers to intervene in Fairfield Housing Association and Thistle Housing Associations. We did not take any new statutory action during 2020/21.

Following positive action and progress at Fairfield Housing Association we ended the appointment of the statutory manager in May 2020 and reduced the number of statutory appointees to four to support the Association Cooperative as it continues to deliver improvements. We also ended the appointment of a statutory manager at Thistle Housing Association following completion of a transfer of homes and assets to Sanctuary Scotland, under our direction.

Speaking of the transfer of Thistle, Ian Brennan, Director of Regulation at the Regulator said: “Tenants voted overwhelmingly in favour of the offer made by Sanctuary Scotland and our own consultation has confirmed the strength and depth of the support for the transfer.”

We are very grateful for the input of all our statutory appointees – people we appoint to the governing body of an RSL. They are all volunteers drawn from the sector to help protect the interests of tenants and others by sharing their knowledge and experience with organisations that need support. During 202/21 19 statutory appointees worked across three organisations. We are also grateful to the statutory managers who worked with Thistle Housing Association and Fairfield Housing Association.

We completed an inquiry into the homeless services provided by Glasgow City Council and published our findings in November 2020. We found that the Council had undertaken a wide programme of improvement and transformation activity as part of its Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan. We are also continuing to engage with the Council as it addresses weakness in its approach to temporary accommodation and responds to the pandemic. We have set this out in our engagement plan with Glasgow City Council.

We deregistered Arklet, Wishaw & District Housing Associations and are working to deregister Thistle Housing Association following transfers respectively to Hanover, Trust and Sanctuary Scotland Housing Associations. We did not register any new social landlords during 2020/21.

SHR is a prescribed person under whistleblowing legislation. Read more information for potential whistleblowers and also about how we deal with whistleblowing concerns about a social landlord.

During 2020/21 whistle-blowers contacted us 8 times. None of these qualified as protected disclosures.

We took no further action in two cases because we were already aware of the concerns and were engaging with the landlord to obtain assurance the issues were being addressed.

We worked with the landlord to establish the facts in six cases. We will continue to engage with four landlords during 2021/22 to obtain assurance they are addressing the issues identified.

Since 1 April 2020 we have required through our Regulatory Framework all social landlords to have effective arrangements and a policy for whistleblowing by staff and governing body/elected members which it makes easily available and which it promotes.

4.5 Our Regulatory & Corporate Priorities - Carrying out thematic work

Due to the pandemic related restrictions and our resource capacity, we were unable to commence any thematic work during 2020/21. When we published our restated Corporate Plan in August 2020 we reaffirmed our commitment to future thematic work.

We will use it to look in depth at specific areas of RSL and LAs 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.

Subject to easing of pandemic-related restrictions, from 2021/22 we plan to develop a programme of thematic work with a clear focus on our priorities and an eye to other themes that emerge as a result of the pandemic and related recovery work.

4.6 Our Regulatory & Corporate Priorities - Promoting equalities and human rights

We are committed to promoting equality and human rights in how we regulate. Tenants, people who are threatened with, or are experiencing homelessness and Gypsy/Travellers, as well as other service users of all background are at the heart of our work. Everyone should be treated fairly, with dignity and respect.

All RSLs and LAs must meet the requirements of relevant equalities and human rights legislation. This includes working to understand the individual needs of their tenants and service users, and to deliver services that recognize these needs.

In 2019/20 we provided £15,000 to a collaboration project with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Glasgow West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers to develop guidance for landlords on the collection and use of equalities data. The guidance has been delayed due to the pandemic. So when we amended our Regulatory Framework in August 2020 we asked landlords to make preparations for giving us an update in relation to human rights and equalities in the annual assurance statements that they will submit to us in October 2021.

To build our own capacity we facilitated human rights awareness & equalities training sessions. This included training with our legal advisors on equalities legislation and sessions facilitated by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, which we offered to all staff and board members.

We continued our commitment to the Scottish Government’s gender balance objective for public boards as we plan for the next recruitment campaign to SHR’s Board in 2021/22 and prepare to report on our contribution to gender equality on public boards in April 2021.

We published a report explaining how we fulfil our corporate parent duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and we also reported on the steps we have taken to secure better or further effect of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

4.7 Our Regulatory & Corporate Priorities - public body duties

In 2020/21 we achieved substantial assurance from our internal auditor and an unqualified audit opinion from Azets Audit Services on behalf of Audit Scotland.

In November 2020, we presented evidence in our 2019/20 annual report and accounts to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee who are responsible for scrutinising our work. We kept the Committee updated on all our publication and news throughout the year and in April 2020 we also responded in writing to questions the Committee asked about our approach to regulation.

We spent £4.479m of our £4.535m budget. Around 76% of our revenue budget relates to 48.4 FTE staff. We published our annual statement on how we comply with the Public Service Reform Act. We also retained Living Wage accreditation.

Our Board and Management Team monitor our performance against our Corporate and operational plans, including our targets.

Type

Response Time

Target

Performance (met/not met)

General Correspondence

8 working days

95%

met

FOI requests

20 working days (extended to 60 days for a short time during the pandemic)

100%

met

FOI reviews

20 working days

100%

met

Significant Performance Failures

5 working days

100%

met

Invoice payments

10 working days

100%

Not met*

*One of 165 invoices was out with target timescales

We published a summary of complaints about us and what we learned from them, which we update after each quarter. We received six complaints in 2020/21, following investigation none were upheld. We refreshed our complaints handling procedures to align with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s new model and promoted this via our website.

We received no appeals against our regulatory decisions. We received one request to review a decision and following consideration we made no change to our decision.

We invested in our IT systems, implementing new pages for our landlord directory on our new website, which we continue to develop to enhance the accessibility of our information. We achieved Cyber Essentials Plus certification for our business intelligence system for the third year. We also promoted the Cyber Essentials accreditation scheme to social landlords highlighting the importance of protecting against cyber fraud and of the need to ensure they protect tenants’ information.

We have also continued to develop the portal that landlords use to share information with us.
In the 2020 Civil Service People Survey our positive results were higher than the median both in the overall engagement score and in each of the nine core themes. Our results were also higher than the civil service “high performers” scores in each of the core themes.

Our staff wellbeing has always been important to us and even more so as our staff worked remotely and through the pandemic related challenges. We spent time providing information and support to staff on wellbeing and support for carers, building on the bronze level carer positive accreditation we received in March 2020. We also started to make plans for when we can return to our office to ensure staff and visitor safety.

We submitted a report on our progress towards climate change targets in November. We also reported on our biodiversity duties and compliance with the Wildlife and Natural Environment Scotland Act 2011 setting out our activities over the last three years.

This has included volunteering and raising staff awareness of the importance of biodiversity. When we return to the office we have plans to roll out updated guidance for staff on travel to support a reduction in our carbon footprint.

Join our 1650 twitter followers @shr_news and over 1800 SHR Update e-zine subscribers to keep up to date with our news.

Following improvements made to our website in 20219/20, in April 2020 we introduced an enhanced Landlord Directory to make it more accessible for people using different devices such as mobile phones and assistive technologies such as screen readers. Our Directory contains information on each landlord’s performance, how we are engaging with it, financial information, service profile and contact details for the landlord. It also includes a tool to compare landlords’ performance. We are grateful to the tenants, landlords and others who gave their time to help us with design and testing.

 

Michael Cameron 

Chief Executive 

Date 5 October 2021

Accountability report and financial statements

Read our accountability report and financial statements year ended 31 March 2021 

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