The Regional Network SHR Liaison Group meeting - minutes - 24 October 2023


21 February 2024

1.  Welcome and Introductions

Kelda welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Attendees: Shona Gorman; Liz Richardson; Gordon Saunders; John Duffy; June Anderson; Kelda McMichael (SHR); Tracey Houston (SHR)

Observers: Colin Stewart (SHR Board Member); Caroline Cameron-Russell (SHR); Gemma Rickman (SHR); Jessica Docherty (SHR)

Apologies: Bruce Cuthbertson; Margaret Dymond; Linda Lennie


2.  Declaration of interests & minute of last meeting

There were no declarations of interest.

The minute of the last meeting was accepted with no amendments.


3.  Regulatory Framework Review Update

Kelda delivered a short presentation to the group setting out the key messages from the SHR Regulatory Framework discussion paper published in June, and the responses received by 11 August.  Kelda noted this was the first step in the review process and the feedback received had informed the formal consultation document published on 20 October, with responses due by 15 December. The key points discussed were:

  • There were 64 responses in total including a response from the Liaison Group
  • Overall, stakeholders told us that the current Regulatory Framework works well and remains relevant and appropriate. We’ve also seen a clear appetite from those involved in social housing for a period of stability and for changes to be kept to a minimum. There was also general support from tenants, landlords, investors and representative bodies for the approach that we set out in the discussion paper and for the changes we proposed.
  • Most respondents supported the provision for specific assurance in Annual Assurance Statements
  • There was wide agreement on the areas of tenant and resident safety
  • There was general support on the approach to damp and mould
  • There was broad support for the focus on listening to tenants and service users
  • There was strong support for streamlining the Notifiable Events process
  • There was a mixed response to the issue of Regulatory Status with support for both an additional category, and for keeping the current classification
  • There was strong support for the current approach to Significant Performance Failures, but with greater clarity required
  • There was a wide range of responses to the question of ARC Indicators. Taking account of this feedback and recognising that the Scottish Government’s EESSH Review Group has not concluded its work, SHR believe that there is merit in taking the time to undertake a comprehensive review of the ARC indicators involving relevant experts and people from the social housing sector. So, SHR propose to establish an appropriate working group, or groups, to consider all of the indicators in the ARC and advise us as we develop appropriate indicators for tenants and resident safety, damp and mould, and EESSH. SHR would then use the input from these groups to determine what indicators to include in a revised ARC. SHR would aim to consult formally on the revised ARC indicators next year with the new ARC being in place for collection year 2025/26. In the meantime, SHR would continue with the existing ARC.
  • Kelda explained that an independent consultant will analyse and report on the responses to the formal consultation.
  • Once SHR has reflected on feedback, it will publish final versions of the Regulatory Framework and statutory guidance at the end of February 2024, to go live from 1 April 2024.


4.  National Report on the Charter for 2022/23

Kelda gave a presentation setting out the headline findings from the National Report published in August.  This was followed by a group discussion during which the following points were noted –

  • The context of the report was unprecedented (pandemic, cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine, economic challenges, homelessness pressures, affordability etc)
  • The report looked at the areas that matter most to tenants
  • Whilst there had been small drops in tenant satisfaction in some areas, satisfaction generally still remains high. The group felt that there is sometimes a disparity between satisfaction levels, SHQS and repairs.
  • There was some discussion about how and when landlords' complete satisfaction surveys.
  • There was a mixed picture in terms of performance against Charter outcomes and standards, but changes are again marginal
  • There was a lower turnover of homes and a lower number of lets
  • Rent levels increased, although remain below inflation. Arrears are at the highest level since the introduction of the Charter
  • Other areas discussed included - maintenance and investment, gas safety and homelessness.
  • It was clarified that SHR regulates Local Authority owned Gypsy / Traveller sites only and has no locus in private sites and their environment


5.  SHR updates 

Kelda provided a summary on SHR’s recent publications and activities. This included: plans to update the Statutory Managers list; the publication of SHR Annual Report and Accounts; and updates to Engagement Plans.

Kelda and Colin also provided a summary of the work of the SHR Board since the liaison group last met. This included a review of the Regulatory Framework discussion paper responses and agreement of the formal consultation; a review of the National Report; agreement of SHR’s annual risk assessment methodology; and a discussion about forthcoming changes to Board membership, including the appointment of a new Chair in 2025. The Board also enjoyed presentations from both Shelter and TPAS.

Two standing forums have been established: Rural and Islands, and Urban Areas. Membership of both includes a range of RSLs and Local Authorities. Two SHR Board Members attended the inaugural meetings and shared their views via a blog.

The group asked for an update on the work of SHR regarding Tenant Advisors and the National Panel.

  • Kelda explained that SHR is currently considering this year’s programme of work for the National Panel of Tenants and Service Users. The group discussed ways of promoting the outcome of the work of the National Panel to ensure wider awareness.
  • She also noted that the Tenant Advisors were currently undertaking an exercise relating to damp and mould. The group discussed the identification, reporting, prevention and management of damp and mould; and Kelda reminded the group that assurance from landlords on damp and mould (as one of seven key indicators relating to tenant and resident safety) was also required in the landlord Annual Assurance Statements (AAS) due to be submitted at the end of October. This will help to inform SHR’s forthcoming annual risk assessment work and the content of engagement plans which will be issued at the end of March 2024.

The group asked for an update on the work of SHR regarding Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). Kelda explained that SHR wrote to landlords on 13 October in relation to Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) as part of a national assessment on behalf of the Scottish Government (SG). Responses are due on 31 October. SHR is also represented on a Scottish Government led short-term working group regarding RAAC.

Last winter, SHR collected percentage rent increase figures on behalf of the Scottish Government. This was collected at the request of the Scottish Government to help them in their decision making regarding the emergency measures introduced by the Scottish Government to protect tenants from the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. The group asked if we will be doing the same this year. We have not been asked to collect this information by the Scottish Government and so there are no plans to collect this information in the same way. Whilst there were no plans to report to SG this year, SHR will collect relevant information from landlords via the Annual Return on the Charter.

Kelda also provided an overview on upcoming SHR publications and events. This includes: SHR’s annual analysis of RSL loan portfolio returns for the period April 2022 to March 2023; publication of all Landlord Annual Assurance Statements (AAS) and all RSL financial statements; a summary of the risks that SHR will focus on in its next annual risk assessment. SHR will also address the following events in November: SHN event; TIS conference; SFHA Finance conference; Tenant and Resident Safety Conference; and Social Housing Conference. Finally, the formal consultation on the Review of the SHR regulatory Framework will close in in December.


6.  Regional networks update

Shona noted that the Regional Network held recently held an ‘all regions’ meeting. She noted that due to current low membership of the network; a “rebrand” was being considered. This would aim to convey the purpose of the network more clearly; and to reconsider membership criteria. This will not happen overnight; and they hope to use an outside consultant or body to help with this process.

The Regional Network met with the Housing Minister, Paul McLennan, for the first time in September. Shona noted this had been very positive and it was hoped that this would lead to more frequent positive dialogue. The next meeting is likely to take place in January, and it is hoped that this will also include representation from COSLA and SFHA.

Liz provided an update on her work regarding consultation on the Human Rights Bill. She also discussed rent consultation at Highland Council.

John noted that North Lanarkshire had recently held an older person’s forum event which was useful to attend. He noted one stall was specifically dedicated to LGBTQ+ issues and they provided an interesting report on inclusive housing and social care for older LGBTQ+ people. He noted that the Civic theatre in Motherwell had been closed due to RAAC and all events (including tenant events) had been cancelled.

June noted she had written to the Scottish Government regarding the increased costs of the West Haugh Gypsy/Traveller site in Clackmannanshire and was awaiting a response. She also noted a new Tenant Participation officer will join the council in December (after a significant period without one).


7.  Any other business 

Kelda advised that SHR would shortly be undertaking a thematic study relating to Tenant Participation. This will also include a specific focus on Gypsy/Traveller Tenant Participation. The group discussed the differing approaches of landlords and potential difficulties of tenants in participating depending on their circumstances. The group noted that some landlords did not have recognised tenant groups in place; whilst other tenant groups had disbanded during the pandemic and had not reformed. The group also felt that tenant participation should be elevated in status as tenants' views were not always fully heard. It was also suggested that Local authority councillors may potentially have a role in the promotion of Tenant Participation in communities. Gordon noted that the Scottish Government holds a database of registered tenants' groups; but this likely requires to be updated. The group was invited to further consider the thematic study, with suggestions to SHR welcome.

The terms of reference document, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the liaison group; reaches three years old in January 2024. It was agreed the current document would be shared with the group who were invited to consider the best timing for the update. The current list of representatives would also be circulated for updating.


8.  Date of next meeting

Suggested dates for next year were provided with final dates and venues to be agreed.