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, Bill Campbell
Observing: Helen Trouten Torres (SHR board member), Colin Stewart (SHR board member), Joseph Quinn (Regulation Manager, SHR), Emma McClorey (Regulation Support Officer, SHR)
Declaration of interests & minute of last meeting
There were no declarations. The minute of the last meeting was accepted pending one spelling correction.
1. SHR’s annual risk assessment outcomes
Stephen summarised the outcomes from SHR’s annual risk assessment, which culminated in new engagement plans for all social landlords, regulatory statuses for RSLs, and an outcomes report being published at the end of March. The risk assessment was carried out against a backdrop of unprecedented challenges for landlords, tenants and service users, and a range of information and evidence was used to inform the risk assessment. The profile of regulatory statuses for RSLs and reasons for engagement with all social landlords was shared with the group. Stephen explained that the outcomes summary report and engagement plans were all available on SHR’s website.
2. SHR updates
Stephen shared the headline findings from the latest COVID-19 quarterly return, following the publication of the dashboard data in February 2022. This included trend analysis on rent arrears, lets and homelessness. Stephen also told the group about the Social Housing Resilience Group’s decision to end the quarterly returns, and that the upcoming return would be the final one.
Kelda spoke about the recent recruitment of 12 new Tenant Advisors, which TIS supported SHR with. Kelda thanked the group for their support in raising awareness about the recruitment campaign across their networks. The aim of the recruitment was to achieve a mix of Tenant Advisors that is reflective of social housing tenants across Scotland, including people from all walks of life and backgrounds and with a particular focus on protected characteristics. Therefore the appointments made were done so to achieve a balance in terms of gender, geography, type and size of landlord, and protected characteristics (including age, ethnic minority and disability). Four candidates have agreed to be on a reserve list should any of the 12 who were successful need replaced during their three year tenure.
Stephen gave a short summary of the latest SHR board meeting minutes, from February 2022; and spoke about SHR recently reporting on its contribution towards gender equality on public boards in Scotland.
Kelda summarised SHR’s other recent publications. All but two engagement plans were published at the end of March, with Cairn and Caledonia Housing Associations’ engagement plans being published in early April. This was following confirmation that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had approved the transfer of engagements from Pentland and Faifley Housing Associations (respectively). Kelda also highlighted the statutory intervention report at Thistle Housing Association, deregistration guidance for RSLs, and factsheets on complaints and Significant Performance Failures.
Kelda spoke about George Walker (SHR chair) and Michael Cameron (SHR Chief Executive) presenting SHR’s annual report and accounts to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee in March, and highlighted that Helen Shaw’s (SHR Director of Regulation) speech from SHARE’s annual conference (which took place in March) is available to read on the SHR website. Kelda also mentioned that there will be representatives from SHR making speeches at the CIH and TPAS conferences which are taking place in the next few months.
3. Region updates
The group wished to acknowledge how useful they found the question and answer session with George Walker and Michael Cameron at the last meeting. Members agreed that this was a positive and enjoyable experience, and that George and Michael were very open and honest in their responses.
Region 1 – Leonora and Liz shared updates from across region 1, including scrutiny exercises being carried out by the Review Group in Aberdeen City, the upcoming annual roadshow by the Tenant Participation Team in Aberdeenshire, and Highland’s Scrutiny Panel’s review on the empty homes standard and tenant satisfaction. Region 1’s AGM will take place on 14 May 2022.
Region 2 – Bill spoke about the annual rent increases being applied across some of the local authorities within region 2, and a roadshow which is currently being organised for Fife to encourage more tenants to become involved in tenant participation. Region 2’s AGM will take place on 28 May 2022.
Region 3 – Leonora shared the update received from South Ayrshire’s representative, which included an update on house building in the area. Margaret told the group that the next meeting in Renfrewshire is next week and they’ll be discussing their contribution to the Tenant Participation Strategy review. Region 3’s AGM will take place on 18 June 2022.
Region 4 – Shona told the group that Link Group’s Scrutiny Panel review of how the welfare and advice services were affected by the pandemic is in the final stages, with the report now being drafted. John Duffy provided an update for North Lanarkshire, including the ongoing discussions around a very useful health impact assessment report. Region 4’s AGM will take place on 21 May 2022.
Updates were also given on some of the wider work carried out by the regional networks. At the last meeting of the Rent Focus Group, members completed a response to the New Deal for Tenants Consultation. The group will be meeting again during April to draft questions to be sent to landlords and tenants. The Communications Group meeting included discussions on the regional network website, finalising the Communications Strategy and the upcoming newsletters. The newly established Housing to 2040 Group met in early April, and discussed the possibility of establishing a national panel of members to provide a wide range of views for the discussions around Housing to 2040. The regional networks also met with the Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, and discussed a range of topics including HRAs, energy costs, storm damage, fuel bill support, broadband connectivity, housing Ukrainian refugees and the demolition of houses to build new homes.
Date of next meeting
2 August 2022