Welcome and introductions
Kelda welcomed everyone to the meeting.
In attendance: Kelda McMichael (SHR), Stephen Lalley (SHR), Leonora Montgomery, John McKenzie, June Anderson, Margaret Dymond, Bruce Cuthbertson
Observers: Colin Stewart (SHR board member), Helen Trouten Torres (SHR board member)
Declaration of interests & minutes of last meeting
There were no declarations made which were relevant to the agenda items. The minutes of the last meeting were accepted.
1. SHR annual risk assessment
Kelda confirmed that SHR had now completed its annual risk assessment and summarised the outcomes from it; including an overview of the regulatory statuses applied to RSLs, and the scope of SHR’s engagement with landlords as set out in the newly published engagement plans.
2. Covid-19 dashboard
Stephen provided a review of the monthly information returns which landlords have been submitting to SHR since April 2020, focusing on trend analysis of rent arrears, lets, homeless applications and households in temporary accommodation over the last 12 months. This generated some discussion around how landlords will manage rent arrears going forward, the difference between RSL and local authority arrears and the increased use of hotels and B&Bs as temporary accommodation. Stephen explained that the monthly return will be moving to quarterly, and SHR will be writing to landlords shortly to confirm the details of this.
3. Other SHR updates
Kelda summarised the main changes which SHR has made to its complaints handling procedures, in line with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s updated model. She also said that SHR has updated the information on its website which lets people know how to give feedback or how to make a complaint.
Kelda gave an update on Thistle Housing Association, which was removed from the RSL register on 27 April 2021 following SHR directing a transfer of engagements to Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association. She also mentioned the other transfer of engagements which have taken place since the last meeting, including Hunters Hall Housing Co-operative transferring to Hillcrest Homes, Kendoon Housing Association transferring to Pineview Housing Association, and Osprey Housing Moray transferring to Osprey Housing.
The ballot for Weslo Housing Management’s tenants to decide if Weslo would transfer engagements to Link Group also closed since the last meeting. Kelda confirmed that a majority of Weslo tenants had voted in favour of this and the transfer would now take place before the summer. Kelda also gave an update on Fairfield Housing Association – the only landlord where statutory action is ongoing.
Stephen summarised SHR’s recent publications, including SHR’s work planner, the outcome of SHR’s recent consultation on EESSH2 indicators, analysis of the finances of RSLs, and a progress update on gender equality on the SHR board. Stephen mentioned the commitment SHR has made in its 2019/20 annual report and accounts to gender balance on public boards, and he also explained that recruitment to the two vacancies on the SHR board had been delayed due to the pandemic. Scottish Ministers are planning to recruit during 2021/22. Helen Trouten Torres wanted to highlight that the assessment of the board member applications is carried out without knowing the name or gender of the applicant, and stressed the importance of encouraging women and individuals from other underrepresented groups to apply.
Kelda spoke about the upcoming SHR publications, and events SHR will be involved in. This includes the publication of the report into statutory action at Wishaw and District Housing Association; and the Social Housing Finance Conference and SFHA conferences, at which SHR representatives will be speaking.
5. Region updates
Region 1 – Updates on individual landlords within the region were shared. This included rent increase information; and the increased maintenance work following the easing of Coronavirus restrictions. The representatives also shared details of some of the training and outreach work being carried out by some of the individual tenant organisations. Region 1 will be holding its AGM on 15 May.
There was no one in attendance from region 2, and no update was provided in advance of the meeting. Region 2’s AGM was held on 8 May.
Region 3 – The representatives spoke about projects ongoing within their individual tenant organisations and landlords. This has included discussing the upcoming ARC return submissions with their landlord, and taking part in a void management sub-group to drive service improvement. Region 3’s AGM will be held on 5 June.
Region 4 – The representatives spoke about discussions ongoing within their individual tenant organisations and landlords. This has included how to manage rent arrears, and about attracting new and younger tenant representatives. Region 4’s AGM will be held on 22 May.
All – All regions are involved in a rent focus group. The group met earlier this month, and HouseMark was invited to discuss affordability and to test its affordability model, which generated discussions at that meeting around a universal definition for ‘affordable’. It was clear that this is a complex topic, and further work on this will continue.
Representatives from the regional networks recently met with Audit Scotland to discuss the use of HRA funds, following a meeting they had with Kevin Stewart, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning around this issue. They plan to consider this issue further.
Any other business
Representatives were reminded that the minutes from their respective regional meetings should be uploaded to the regional network website in a timely manner.
Date of next meeting:
- 20 July 2021