Welcome to our annual report and accounts for 2021/22.
The nation is recovering from and living with Covid-19, and we recognise the unprecedented circumstances in which social landlords continue to operate and the new challenges that they and their tenants face, not least rising household costs.
We continue to work with the Scottish Social Housing Resilience Group and on its behalf collected and published dashboards of information on the impact of Covid-19 on social landlords up until the end of March 2022. We also continue to provide advice to governing bodies of registered social landlords and engage with individual landlords on issues related to the pandemic and the other new challenges which social landlords face.
Alongside this, we continue to regulate and support the landlords as they recover and work through backlogs from the pandemic and deal with the challenges from the cost of living crisis, labour and material supply chain cost increases and shortages and the impact of the war in Ukraine.
We completed our statutory interventions in Thistle and Fairfield Housing Associations, and as at the end of March 2022, we have no ongoing statutory interventions. We also published reports on the outcome of our completed interventions at Wishaw and District, Arklet, Ruchazie and Thistle; our report on our intervention at Fairfield will follow in 2022/23. We thank all those who have served as statutory appointees most recently at Thistle and Fairfield Housing Associations. Statutory appointees to governing bodies are all volunteers drawn from the sector and are key to supporting landlords that are working to improve. Through this work, and through our engagement with all social landlords, we have continued to protect the interests of tenants and service uses, the reputation of social landlords, and investments in social housing.
We engaged with landlords as set out in the plans we published in March 2021 and updated throughout the year. We carried out a comprehensive regulatory risk assessment of social landlords and published the outcome in engagement plans in March 2022. We found that 136 landlords are compliant (four are under review) and six are working towards compliance. At 31 March 2022, we were not using our statutory powers to intervene in any landlords.
Looking ahead to 2022/23 and beyond, recovery will continue to be a major feature, against the backdrop of the unfolding situation in Europe.
We know that pressure on landlords’ costs and household incomes, and supply chains has become even more acute so affordability and value for money are at the forefront for us. We will have a strong focus on the quality and safety of tenants’ homes and for Gypsy/Travellers to have sites that meet the standards determined by the Scottish Government. It will also be vital that landlords meet the needs of people who are or have experienced homelessness and we will focus on the provision of temporary and settled accommodation.
Landlords are being asked to respond to the climate emergency and to decarbonise heating in homes, while at the same time there are issues in and disruption to supply chains that are driving up costs. And there is the need to invest to protect from increasing incidents of cyber-attack.
This is not an exhaustive list. We know that resilient organisations cope better, and so building and testing organisational resilience, including the capacity to handle unexpected events, has become even more critical for social landlords.
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. In November 2021 we were delighted to welcome new Board members Marieke Dwarshuis and Lindsay Paterson.
We also thanked Ian Brennan, Director of Regulation when he stepped down after twelve years with SHR and welcomed Helen Shaw as the new Director of Regulation.
We continue to pay tribute to the hard work of all those who work and volunteer in social housing in Scotland and support some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland.
George Walker, Chair and Michael Cameron, Chief Executive
Who we are & 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 LAs.
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 management; and
- 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.
Overview - Our work performance & achievements
This is a summary of our work during the year set out under the priorities we set out in our Corporate Plan 2019 – 2022 (restated in 2020). Further detail on all of this work including links to publications can be found in section four of our annual report – performance analysis.
We managed risk by:
- focussing on anything that might prevent us from achieving our statutory objective;
- publishing a new strategy on what we will do and how we will use our resources in 2022/23;
- working with the Social Housing Resilience Groupto respond to the pandemic, informing that group and Scottish Government through a monthly dashboard on the impact of the pandemic on landlords; and
- carrying out a regulatory risk assessment of every social landlord, delivering on the engagement set out in our published engagement plans and keeping these updated.
We empowered tenants, people who are homeless, Gypsy/Travellers and others by:
- meeting with our Regional Network SHR Liaison Group and participating in virtual events with tenant organisations;
- carrying out researchwith our National Panel of Tenants and Service Users;
- publishing a suite of performance information on landlords’ performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charter;
- recruiting a new group of our tenant advisors; and
- receiving and investigating reports from tenants on significant performance failures.
We sought assurance by:
- during 2021/22, delivering the engagement we detailed in plans published at the end of March 2021 for every landlord including for the first time a regulatory status for RSLs reflecting the outcome of our regulatory risk assessment;
- publishing our national analysis of landlords’ performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charteras well as refreshed reports for every social landlord, data tables and comparison tool and new technical guidance for landlords;
- publishing annual assurance statementson regulatory requirement compliance submitted to us by all social landlords;
- publishing information about the risks that we focused on in our 2021/22 regulatory risk assessment of social landlords;
- publishing our analysis of the financial health of RSLs;
- engaging directly with all LAs around services for people experiencing homelessness;
- carrying out a regulatory risk assessment of all landlords and publishing the outcome in refreshed engagement plans for all social landlords from March 2022; and
- adjusting our approach to monitoring and reporting on Energy Efficiency Standard for Scottish Social Housing (EESSH) in anticipation of the Scottish Government’s review of the standard.
We took action to protect the interests of tenants and others by:
- completing our statutory intervention in Thistle and Fairfield Housing Associations;
- publishing reports on the outcomes of our completed interventions at Ruchazie, Arklet, Wishaw and District and Thistle;
- publishing information about how we use our statutory intervention powers;
- considering applications for de-registrations from RSLs which transferred to other social landlords and publishing guidance on the process; and
- responding to whistleblowing concerns raised with us and reporting on these.
We raised awareness and shared positive practice by:
- providing clear and up to date guidance for landlords;
- inputting to Social Housing Resilience Group discussions as issues emerged and publishing a quarterly dashboard on the impact of Covid-19 on social landlords;
- publishing reports on the outcome of our interventions;
- reviewing governing body minutes as part of annual regulatory risk assessment of social landlords; and
- using available forums such as speeches and blogs to raise awareness of key risk areas.
We promoted equalities and human rights by:
- continuing to support our staff through awareness and training;
- continuing our commitment to the Scottish Government’s gender balance objective for public boards;
- recognising the impact of the pandemic, requiring updates from landlords on human rights and equalities in the annual assurance statements that landlords submitted to us in October 2021;
- collaborating with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF), and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) to provide guidance for landlords; and
- continuing to work with the SHRC on a briefing on the right to an adequate house.
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 2021 Civil Service people survey;
- ensuring our Management Team monitored our performance monthly, and our Board on a quarterly basis;
- maintaining our Cyber Essentials Plus certification;
- continuing to support our staff as they work remotely and as we gradually reopen our office and develop our future approach to working;
- submitting our climate change return;
- keeping our stakeholders up to date through @shr_news and our SHR update e-zine;
- operating within our budget; and
- responding to Freedom of Information requests and Subject Access Requests in line with statutory duties.
4.1 Risk profile
4.1.1 Risks to social landlords, their tenants and service users and how we have responded
Each year, we carry out a regulatory risk assessment of all social landlords to enable us to plan our engagement with them.
At 31 March 2021, we published the outcome of our annual regulatory risk assessment of social landlords, which reflected the backdrop of the pandemic and the other challenges landlords face as well as the work landlords did to adapt to these challenges. For the first time this included a regulatory status for RSLs, which describes in our judgement if a landlord complies with Regulatory Standards. During 2021/22 we engaged with social landlords as set out in the engagement plans published on 31 March 2021 and we kept these plans updated throughout the year.
In November 2021, we set out the approach to the risks that we would focus on in our 2022 regulatory risk assessment of social landlords. We continued to take account of the impact of the pandemic on landlords’ performance and also focused on resilience of landlords as well as homelessness, performance, the quality of homes, social landlords’ plans to develop new, affordable housing and financial health and governance in RSLs. We published the outcome from our 2022 regulatory risk assessment, including updated engagement plans for all social landlords on 31 March 2022.
We continued to participate in the Social Housing Resilience Group, which we helped form back in 2020. We focused on monitoring the impact on landlords, moving the initial monthly data collection and publically available reporting dashboard to a quarterly one. This continued to inform the Resilience Group, Scottish Government and other stakeholders. This covered key information around RSL staffing, rent arrears, empty homes, lets, court actions, notice of proceedings and homelessness services in LAs.
We continued to populate a 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.
We reverted from the temporary changes to our Regulatory Framework that we made in light of the pandemic in 2020, returning to normal timescales for landlords to complete their Annual Assurance Statements and also to report to tenants and services users on their performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charter.
Looking across the operating environment for LAs and RSLs we see potential risks around:
- rent affordability and financial sustainability in what are arguably the most challenging economic conditions of recent times for individuals and families as well as for landlords;
- responding to the climate emergency and the decarbonisation of heating in homes;
- supply chain disruption, increased costs and labour shortages/demographic issues and consequent delays in repairs services, planned maintenance and investment plans and development programmes;
- cyber resilience;
- potential increases in pension deficits, and the resulting increases in the contributions that landlords have to fund;
- increased expectations and standards to meet including demand for health and social care services as a result of the pandemic that could impact LA budgets;
- changing expectations and needs of services users; and
All of these could result in governance failures, financial pressures and challenges to services if landlords are not resilient and well-prepared. In March 2022, we agreed a new Strategy. This sets out what we will do and how we will use our resources in 2022/23 and rolls on from our Corporate Plan 2019-22. Our vision remains the same: 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 priorities we set out in our new Strategy have a high level of continuity from our previous Corporate Plan and will help us focus our future engagement to support landlords in these areas. Our priorities will be:
- 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
In March 2022, we set out more detail on the significant risk areas for landlords in the summary outcome of our regulatory risk assessment. We are also starting to give some thought to what a regulatory focus on resilience might look like.
4.1.2 How SHR manages the risks that we face
Alongside our regulatory risk assessment of social landlords, we manage risks to SHR achieving our statutory objective through actively considering our corporate 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 2021/22, overall the likelihood of these risks materialising decreased. We saw some slow improvement in relation to our resources due to our increased budget allocation, but challenges on services provided by Scottish Government, particularly recruitment, slowed the speed of recruitment and impacted the work that we were able to deliver during the year.
During 2021/22, like everyone else, we continued to respond to risks around the pandemic.
For most of the year our staff continued to work effectively from home, with gradual office opening from December 2021. We continued to deliver our business priorities. We had already ensured that our team had the additional equipment they needed to support them, such as office chairs, monitors etc. and we also supported their wellbeing.
4.2 Empowering Tenants & 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.
We continued 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. Research we published in July 2021 provided an insight on the impact of Covid-19 on tenants. A large majority felt that the pandemic affected their landlord’s services and also had a negative impact on the quality of their life. They most commonly experienced some services stopping temporally and longer timescales for responding to queries, with most saying that their landlords continued to provide at least some key services. There were mixed responses about how well landlords kept tenants informed. Overall, half of respondents felt that their landlord’s response to the pandemic was very or fairly good, while a quarter rated it as fairly poor or very poor.
The feedback in this report underlined just how difficult the pandemic has been for tenants and landlords alike and provided useful context for our regulatory risk assessment of social landlords and dialogue with both tenants and landlords.
We commenced new survey work with the panel again in January 2022 and will report on the findings in the first half of 2022/23. The Panel is open to anyone who is a social housing tenant or uses social landlords’ services.
We also worked with the Regional Network SHR Liaison Group. Our staff and some of our Board members continued to meet with the Regional Network SHR Liaison Group virtually during 2021/22. They provide us with tenants’ perspectives and we value our engagement with them.
We have also participated in 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.
A group of tenants can report directly to us if they consider that their landlord has had a Significant Performance Failure (SPF). We will investigate this and engage with the landlord where improvements are required. In 2021/22 we received eight potential SPF reports and engaged with the landlords concerned. 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.
Learn more about how to raise a concern about a social landlord and SPFs from this video.
In January 2021, we invited applications from volunteer tenant advisors to help inform our regulation. We thanked and retired the cohort of advisors that had worked with us over six years.
Tenant Advisors are tenants of either RSLs or LAs who volunteer to participate in regulation work and support SHR by:
- testing landlord services by acting as mystery shoppers, assessing information and materials produced by landlords for their tenants;
- reviewing SHR draft publications and website facilities, and helping the SHR to make sure material is both accessible and user friendly for tenants; and
- asking other service users for their views when the SHR assess the quality of service provided by social landlords to give the SHR a direct user perspective to add to other regulatory evidence.
We look forward to welcoming and working with a new group of tenant advisors in 2022/23.
4.3 Getting Assurance
We also fulfilled our function to monitor and report on social landlord performance and seek assurance around compliance with regulatory requirements.
We published the eighth National Report on the Scottish Social Housing Charter in August 2021 and for the period April 2020 – March 2021 we reported that almost 9 out of 10 tenants were satisfied with the homes and services their landlord provides.
For the areas that tenants tell us matter most:
- Emergency repairs response time - increased - 4.2 hours
- Tenants satisfied with the quality of their homes - unchanged - 87%
- Tenants satisfied that their rent is good value for money - decreased - 83%
- Average weekly rent - increased - £83.78
- Tenants satisfied with their landlord’s contribution to neighbourhood management - decreased - 86%
- Anti-social behaviour cases which were resolved - unchanged - 94%
- First stage complaints responded to in full – down to 96.9%
- Average planned rent increases 2020/21 down to 1.2%
Chair George Walker said:
“It is clear that the pandemic impacted on social landlords’ ability to deliver services as they normally would. Landlords had to operate within changing levels of restrictions throughout 2020/21. This had an impact on the performance of landlords, and also on the data they have reported to us. The pandemic is the most significant contextual factor in assessing performance. We know landlords continue to face challenges and we will continue to work with tenants, Scottish Government and the Social Housing Resilience Group as landlords build back the range of services they provide to tenants and others.”
As part of the national Charter report, we also consider the Energy Efficiency Standard in Social Housing, which we have been monitoring since 2014. We reported that landlords told us that as at March 2021:
- 89% of homes met EESSH, up from 87% in the previous year.
- the total number of homes meeting EESSH increased by nearly 14,500 during 2020/21
- the total amount of money invested by landlords in meeting EESSH dropped by more than 52% to around £61 million (this reflects both the sequencing of the necessary works and the impact of the pandemic which has constrained landlords’ capacity to fully implement investment programmes).
The Scottish Government confirmed a second milestone in June 2019, for social rented houses to meet by Dec 2032 (referred to as EESSH2). We carried out a consultation exercise on EESSH2 indicators in Jan 2021 and published the outcome from this in March 2021.
Following that, the Scottish Government convened the Zero Emissions in Social Housing Taskforce (ZEST) to consider and provide practical recommendations on what is required of social landlords to contribute to the Scottish Government’s climate change targets. The final report from ZEST included a recommendation to bring forward the review of EESSH2 to begin as soon as possible.
In anticipation of the Scottish Government’s review of EESSH2, we will collect through the 2022 Annual Return on the Charter (ARC) a more limited number of indicators on EESSH.
We set out in November 2021, the focus of our annual regulatory risk assessment of social landlords, which we use to determine the assurance we need from landlords and what they may need to do to improve. It informs our decisions about what further information or assurance we need from social landlords. We set out how we will engage with each landlord in an engagement plan which we publish on our Directory of Social Landlords on our website. For RSLs this will include a Regulatory Status. We publish the outcomes from our risk assessment by the end of March.
Helen Shaw, Director of Regulation said:
“Social landlords have faced unprecedented challenges and have been at the forefront of efforts to support their tenants in such difficult times. It is likely that the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt by social landlords for some time. And they will continue to face other challenges as they work to build back the services they provide for tenants, and meet wider challenges around for example climate change and the development of affordable new homes.”
In October 2021, social landlords provided their annual assurance statements to confirm that they meet our regulatory standards and requirements or to set out how they will address any areas of non-compliance. We used these to inform our regulatory risk assessment and published them on our Directory of Social Landlords.
In 2021/22, we engaged with all 32 LAs around homelessness services given the challenges of the pandemic. Our new approach is more time-consuming but mutually beneficial for us and the LAs as they have a clearer idea of what we expect and require and we have greater insight into homelessness services nationwide. We will continue to engage with all LAs in 2022/23 on homelessness.
We feed into our annual regulatory risk assessment:
- how LAs deliver services for people who are threatened with, or experiencing, homelessness. This includes providing people who need it with suitable temporary accommodation (particularly during the pandemic) and how they are working with their RSL partners to provide settled homes; and
- how RSLs perform in responding to requests for assistance, limiting the time people spend in temporary accommodation.
We also reported on our analysis of annual RSL loan portfolio returns in December 2021. We found that lender investment in RSLs remains high signalling a vote of confidence in the sector.
We reported that:
- lending and investment at 31 March 2021 exceeded £6.4 billion – up 3.8% from 2019/20;
- 41 different RSLs took out 66 new loans in 2020/21 totalling more than £660 million across 17 different lenders;
- 20% of all lending continued to come from the bond and capital markets; and
- 78% of new loans were raised to fund the construction or acquisition of affordable homes, allowing RSLs to make a major contribution to the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.
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:
“Our most up to date analysis shows that lending to and investment in RSLs remains high. This represents a considerable vote of confidence in the sector and effective regulation, which helps protect funds. This is good news for RSLs and their tenants and service users.
“It is important that lender and investor confidence is maintained in order to retain the availability of lending and favourable investment rates for the sector. This will be vital in supporting RSLs as they continue to work on their recovery plans, build and test their resilience and continue to work to deliver on wider Scottish Government priorities to deliver affordable, warm and safe homes for tenants and service users.”
What this means
Compliant (4 under review)
The RSL meets the Standards of Governance and Financial Management and regulatory requirements.
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.
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 engage 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 Taking Action when we need to
During 2021/22, we completed statutory interventions in Thistle and Fairfield Housing Associations. In both cases tenants voted to transfer to other RSLs, Sanctuary Scotland and Kingdom Housing Associations respectively, and have benefited from that. We are very grateful to everyone involved in these interventions, particularly the volunteer statutory appointees drawn from the Scottish social housing sector.
Bob McDougall, Chair of Fairfield and a statutory appointee said:
“When Fairfield determined a better future lay in joining another organisation, it had the benefit of having experienced a shared services agreement with Kingdom. Our experience confirmed the best future opportunities for tenants and staff alike lay in formally joining Kingdom. We were delighted when Fairfield tenants gave overwhelming support for the transfer to Kingdom and we strongly believe that the interests of tenants will be best served by the improvements that the transfer will bring.”
During the year we also published reports on the outcome of completed interventions in Wishaw & District, Arklet, Ruchazie and Thistle Housing Associations. We will publish the outcome of our intervention in Fairfield in 2022/23.
Rhona McLeod, Chief Executive of Trust Housing said:
“We were pleased to agree the transfer with Wishaw & District Housing Association and eighteen months later the benefits for Trust and the tenants of Wishaw & District are evident. We are delighted to have been able to make substantial progress against all the tenant promises that were made as part of the transfer, including the exciting development of Park Place, Wishaw which will provide much needed new affordable homes in the area.”
Speaking about the Arklet transfer Angela Currie Chief Executive of Hanover said:
“We were delighted to be selected by Arklet as the preferred partner for transfer in 2018. We felt that there was a strong value alignment and a shared focus on improving the quality of life for older people. Since the official transfer in November 2019, significant benefits have been delivered to tenants, including a £12 reduction to monthly rents in 2020, Wi-Fi installations in communal lounges, and a range of engagement opportunities for residents to help shape the organisation. Additionally, cost savings of £430,000 have been achieved since the transfer through efficiencies and harmonisation, which is a remarkable achievement.”
Speaking about the intervention Hugh Holland, Chairperson of Ruchazie, said:
“Everyone associated with Ruchazie Housing Association has worked tirelessly over the last three years to secure the future of the Association, whilst maintaining high standards of services to our tenants. The support of Paul Rydquist, appointed statutory manager and appointees to the committee has been invaluable in making real and lasting improvements in governance, performance and financial viability.
The Management Committee and staff team continue to be committed to delivering excellent services and demonstrating good governance to our tenants and customers, and this has been evident throughout the last 18 months which have been challenging for all our colleagues in the social housing sector.”
We did not take any new statutory action during 2021/22.
In October 2021, we published more information about how we use our statutory intervention powers if we need to take action to safeguard the interest of tenants and service users.
Margaret Sharkey, Assistant Director of Regulation, said:
“We want to be as open as possible about how we regulate so that tenants and service users, landlords and others with an interest in our work have a clear understanding of what we do, how we do it and why we do it.
“We only use our statutory intervention powers if there is a risk to the interests of tenants and service users.
“This information note helps explain for landlords, tenants and service users, and others who are interested in our work how we use these powers if we need to.”
During 2021/22, we saw some movement in the RSL sector for a range of reasons. We deregistered:
- Barony - transferred to West Lothian Partnership and Dunedin Canmore Homes within the Wheatley Group
- Bellsmyre - transferred to Caledonia
- Hunters Hall - transferred to Hillcrest
- Fairfield - transferred to Kingdom following statutory intervention
- Kendoon - transferred to Pineview
- Thistle - transferred to Sanctuary Scotland following statutory intervention
- Welso - transferred to the Link Group
In March 2022, we published advisory guidance setting out the de-registration process for RSLs. The guidance explains what RSLs need to do when seeking voluntary removal from the Register of Social Landlords, or when SHR seeks to compulsorily remove an RSL from the Register. In either case, certain criteria must be met, and in a particular order. The final decision to de-register an RSL is made by SHR’s Board.
We did not register any new social landlords during 2021/22.
During 2021/22, whistle-blowers contacted us three times. None of these qualified as protected disclosures.
We took action in all three cases. In one case we are gathering information before deciding next steps. In the other two we worked with the landlords to establish the facts. We will continue to engage with these two landlords during 2022/23 to obtain assurance they are addressing any 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 Carrying out thematic work
We use thematic work to look in depth at specific areas of RSL and LA 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 landlord regulatory risk assessments and lets us share positive practice. As set out in our restated Corporate Plan in 2020 we planned to develop a programme of work subject to easing of pandemic related restrictions. This was not possible and we roll this aspiration into 2022. That work will be focused on our regulatory priorities.
While we could not carry out thematic studies we used other means to raise awareness of our priorities, and we:
- published the outcome of our completed interventions, so that governing bodies can consider the points when carrying out their regular assurance and assessment of their own compliance with the regulatory requirements;
- reviewed governing body minutes as part of annual regulatory risk assessment of social landlords;
- surveyed landlords on tenant and resident health and safety, using the intelligence gathered in our regulatory risk assessment of social landlords and to inform the work we started to review our Asset management recommended practice;
- on behalf of the Scottish Social Housing Resilience Group collected and published information on the impact of Covid-19 on landlords and in collaboration with Housemark and Scottish Housing Network published analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on social landlords in Scotland during 2020/21; and
- spoke at Scottish Housing Associations Resources for Education (SHARE) annual conference, SFHA Finance conference and the Tenant Information Service (TIS) Rent Setting event as well as regular articles in social housing media to highlight the areas that we are focused on to raise awareness of regulatory expectations and share positive practice.
4.6 Promoting equality & human rights
We prioritise equality and human rights. Tenants and other service users of all backgrounds are at the heart of our work. These rights mean that everyone should be treated fairly with dignity and respect. We work to empower tenants and other service users, and to give them a voice.
Social landlords must meet the requirements of relevant equalities and human rights legislation. This includes working to understand the individual needs of their tenants and other service users, and to deliver services that recognise and meet these needs.
Landlords must assure themselves about this. We also ask landlords to update us in relation to their compliance with regulatory requirements, including on human rights and equalities, in the annual assurance statements they submit to us in October of each year.
In August 2021, we collaborated with the SFHA, GWSF and ALACHO to provide a new guide to support social landlords with the collection of equalities data.
We are working with the Scottish Human Rights Commission to develop a briefing for social landlords on the right to adequate housing.
Promoting equality and human rights is integral to all of our work. Our equalities statement 2019 – 22 re-affirms our commitment to meeting our equality duties and performing our role in a way which recognises and encourages the importance of equality and human rights.
We also encourage diversity and promote equality as an employer. We work hard to ensure our staff are knowledgeable on equality and human rights issues so that they are taken into account in how we work.
We continue to be committed to the Scottish Government’s gender balance objective for public boards and were very mindful of that as we helped promote Scottish Ministers’ recruitment campaign to SHR’s Board during 2021. We reported on our contribution to gender equality on public boards in April 2021 and in November 2021 we welcomed two new Board members appointed by Scottish Ministers, which brings our complement to 4 women and 5 men.
We have had regard to island communities in carrying out our functions, in line with the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018. We have not carried out any islands’ impact assessments during 2021/22. Our regulatory functions and the implementation of our Regulatory Framework do not have a different effect on any island communities compared with other communities in Scotland. When we engage with any landlord we take account of the local context for its service delivery and wider operating circumstances.
4.7 Our public body duties
In 2021/22 we achieved substantial assurance from our internal auditor and an unqualified audit opinion from Azets Audit Services on behalf of Audit Scotland.
In March 2022, we presented evidence in our 2020/21 annual report and accounts to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee who are responsible for scrutinising our work. We kept the Committee updated on all our publications and news throughout the year and in July 2021 we also provided information about our priorities.
We spent £4.450m of our £4.7m revenue and £200k capital budget. Around 81% of our 2021/22 revenue budget relates to 48.26 FTE staff. We published our annual statement on how we comply with the Public Service Reform Act. We also retained Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.
Our Board and Management Team monitor our performance against our Corporate and operational plans, including our targets.
8 working days
20 working days
Not met in one case
20 working days
No reviews requested
Significant Performance Failures
5 working days
10 working days
We refreshed and implemented our complaints handling procedures, which are aligned with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s new model and promoted this through our website. This includes publication of a quarterly summary of any complaints about us and what we learned from them. We received no complaints during 2021/22.
We received no appeals against our regulatory decisions. We received one request to review a decision and following consideration we upheld the original 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 accreditation 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 made further changes to our business intelligence system to replace components that were reaching the end of life with more modern cloud-based computing software. These changes have realised financial savings but, more importantly, improved our efficiency and agility. We have been developing and are introducing a new reporting mechanism on our social landlords portal for landlords to report data relating to their housing stock. This will give us a more accurate and up to date picture of homes provided by social landlords.
In the 2021 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 provided information and support to staff on wellbeing as well as information on support for carers. Staff held three rounds of one-to-one wellbeing conversations with their line manager during the year to check that they had the right support to continue to work safely and effectively from home. We put in place a range of measures to ensure our office was safe for a gradual re-opening from late 2021.
We submitted a report on our progress towards climate change targets in November 2021.
Once we are able to return fully to our office safely, our future way of working will be different from pre-pandemic, with a balance between working from home and utilising our office for collaborative working. As well as bringing more flexibility for staff, this will have a positive impact on travel patterns. In the medium to long term, our move to a new office in late 2023 will make a significant contribution to reducing our carbon emissions.
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Accountability report and financial statements
To read the accountability report and financial statements download the full report at the bottom of this page.