Welcome and introductions
Kelda welcomed everyone to the meeting.
In attendance: Kelda McMichael (SHR), Stephen Lalley (SHR), Leonora Montgomery, John McKenzie, Margaret Dymond, Shona Gorman, John Duffy, Liz Richardson, Terry Kirby, Bill Campbell, June Anderson
Observing: Gavin Leask (SHR), David Allison (SHR)
Declaration of interests & minute of last meeting
Terry declared that he is a board member of Hillcrest. The minute of the last meeting was accepted.
1. Recent SHR updates
Stephen shared some recent SHR updates since the last meeting, including:
- An overview of SHR’s strategy and work plans for 2022/23, which was published in April and sets out the main priorities for the Regulator and a summary of the main pieces of work planned during the year;
- The headlines from the final COVID-19 dashboard return, covering the period January – March 2022, which was also published in late April; and
- The announcement of the Regulator’s 12 new Tenant Advisors, who will be completing their first project shortly.
Stephen also highlighted that the Regulator’s National Report on landlords’ performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charter for 2021/22 would be published at the end of August. Stephen invited members of the liaison group to share any of their experiences of engaging with their landlord on reporting their performance to their tenants. Overall members have had positive experiences so far, and many have upcoming meetings planned with their landlord to discuss their respective annual reports.
Stephen shared the list of the ‘areas that matter most to tenants’, which is referred to in each year’s National Report, and asked the group if this list does still reflect the issues which tenants care most about. The consensus from the group was that the list is sensible. From the other indicators collected in the ARC, there were suggestions to also include adaptations, anti-social behaviour and tenant participation in the list.
2. Other SHR updates
Kelda summarised the latest engagement plan updates. This included West of Scotland’s following a transfer of engagements from Charing Cross, and also Abbeyfield Scotland and Blackwood Homes to reflect that transfer of engagements.
Kelda told the group about Andrew Watson’s recent appointment to Deputy Chair of the SHR board, and explained what this role means. She summarised the agenda items the board would be discussing at its meeting which was taking place the following day.
In terms of recent publications, Kelda told the group about SHR’s national analysis of the finances of RSLs, the advisory guidance which will support RSLs when they are conducting reviews of compliance with regulatory standards, and a letter sent to social landlords in July to give them information about their Annual Assurance Statement. Kelda also summarised upcoming publications which includes the National Report on the Charter, the next National Panel of Tenants and Service Users report, guidance for social landlords on asset management and on human rights, and analysis on rent increases.
SHR will be issuing a stakeholder communications survey at the end of August, and so Kelda explained what the purpose of this is and that the liaison group and regional networks will be invited to take part once it goes live.
Kelda also mentioned recent and upcoming events; including Michael Cameron’s speech at the CIH Conference in May, and his upcoming appearances at the TIS Rent Setting Conference and EVH Annual Conference which will both take place in September.
3. Region updates
Updates from region 1 included a new customer improvement group is being formed in Aberdeen City. In addition, Aberdeenshire’s annual road shows have now concluded and were a great success. In Highland the Housing Disability Panel is in the process of creating a partnership with other disabled tenants in the Islands and Moray, a consultation has been launched to monitor satisfaction with the new cleaning service at Langstane Housing Association, and there is a new Tenant Participation Officer at Orkeny Islands Council. Finally, the Scottish Housing Network is supporting the network to arrange net zero events across the region.
Region 2’s next meeting is next week, and office bearers were elected at their recent AGM.
There is a Communities Fun Day taking place in South Ayrshire on 10 September, which has in previous years attracted more than 3,000 people. In Renfrewshire, the first draft of the Tenant Participation Strategy is shortly being presented to the Housing Policy Board, and the East Ayrshire Federation is starting to plan for its conference in early November.
Shona spoke about the central regional network having low membership and that they are struggling to recruit.
Shona said that the regional networks, overall are running at around 40% capacity, but thinks that the pandemic has meant that some groups paused their meetings and perhaps didn’t restart them. The group did recognise that the SHR Tenant Advisor recruitment campaign did attract a strong number of applicants; some of whom may be suited to join their local regional network and so hope that there are people out there who would be interested in joining the Networks. Leonora explained that the communications sub-group (operating across the networks) was currently looking at membership levels and would be contacting each region about advertising for additional members where needed.
Terry updated the group on the rent focus group. He said that all regions have contributed to two surveys – one will be issued to landlords and one to tenants at the end of August. The survey has a foreword by Patrick Harvie.
Terry also told the group about the affordability working group which he has been invited to sit on, alongside around 20 other representatives from the sector. This includes SHR. The group first met in May and will include focus groups being held to help inform the group’s remit of defining affordability.
Any other business
Leonora shared the news that she would be stepping down from the Regional Network. Kelda, Stephen and the group thanked her for her contributions over the years, particularly in her recent tenure as co-ordinator, and wished her well.
Date of next meeting
- 25 October 2022