Welcome and introductions
Kelda welcomed everyone to the meeting.
In attendance: Kelda McMichael (SHR), Stephen Lalley (SHR), Leonora Montgomery, Shona Gorman, John McKenzie, June Anderson, Margaret Dymond
Apologies: Bruce Cuthbertson, Alasdair Mackenzie
Declaration of interests & minutes of last meeting
There were no declarations made which were relevant to the agenda items. A few minor typos were identified in the previous meeting’s minutes, but otherwise these were accepted.
1. Group name change
In advance of the meeting, the group had requested that the name of the group be changed from ‘SHR and RTO Liaison Group’ to ‘The Regional Network SHR Liaison Group’; so it was agreed that a vote would be taken at the meeting. Those in attendance unanimously agreed to the name change, and so the ‘roles and responsibilities’ document for the group published on SHR’s website would be updated.
2. SHR annual risk assessment
Kelda and Stephen outlined SHR’s approach to the annual risk assessment; summarising the risks which will be focused on and what information will be used to inform the risk assessment. The headlines from the latest National Report on Scottish Social Housing Charter and monthly dashboard were shared, as well as some anecdotal evidence from landlords about the impact of the financial pressures on their tenants, such as the increased demand for welfare rights services. It was agreed that SHR would re-send a link to the full dataset from the monthly returns so that group members could check the responses from individual landlords. Kelda also explained how the Annual Assurance Statements will feed into the risk assessment, and confirmed that all statements had been submitted by 11 December 2020.
3. Other SHR updates
Kelda gave an update on Thistle Housing Association - where statutory action continues and SHR has now been asked by Thistle to direct a transfer of engagements to Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association - and on Weslo Housing Management, which has entered stage 1 of tenant consultation as part of its proposals to complete a transfer of engagements to Link Group. Kelda explained that SHR will continue to engage with both Weslo and Link as this progresses.
Stephen and Kelda summarised SHR’s recent publications, including SHR’s annual report and accounts, RSL loan portfolio returns and the findings from SHR’s inquiry into Glasgow City Council’s homelessness service. SHR’s recent consultation on EESSH2 indicators was also discussed, and the regions were thanked for submitting responses. The representatives all agreed that the indicators suggested by SHR seemed sensible and straight forward for landlords to complete. Kelda summarised the recent update to SHR’s governing body guidance, to reflect the queries from landlords around virtual meetings and carrying out satisfaction surveys. The representatives shared their most recent experiences of participating in their landlords’ satisfaction surveys, which during the pandemic have moved to being carried out online, over the phone or by post. Representatives praised the respective landlords and market research organisations for adapting to this way of working.
Kelda spoke about the upcoming events and publications for SHR, including the report into statutory action at Wishaw and District Housing Association, a piece by Inside Housing summarising a recent panel discussion of the various UK housing regulators including SHR, the next iteration of the monthly dashboard in February, and the upcoming TPAS conference, which has been moved from January to April. The latest engagement with the National Panel of Tenants and Service Users was also set to launch imminently, and so Kelda shared some details of the information being collected this year, which includes a focus on the impact of the pandemic.
The representatives had asked to hear about SHR’s plans for the coming year, and so Kelda explained that SHR staff were all still working from home in line with Scottish Government guidance, but that our engagement with landlords was continuing on a virtual basis. She reminded the group that SHR had published a restated Corporate Plan in August 2020 outlining the work planned for the future, however emphasised that SHR would continue to align its regulatory approach to respond to the impact of the pandemic.
Kelda then provided an update on the recent legislative changes made by the Scottish Government around evictions, the Unsuitable Accommodation Order and the requirement for interlinked smoke alarms.
4. Region updates
Region 1 – The network is continuing to have their regular scheduled meetings via Zoom and some of the sub-groups are the same, however quite a few have still to implement meetings this way. There has been a largely positive experience from the region in terms of landlords keeping in touch with their tenants during the pandemic, including through telephone & video calls and newsletters.
There was no one in attendance from region 2, and no update was provided in advance of the meeting.
Region 3 – The network met in mid-January to discuss their response to the SHR’s EESSH2 consultation as well as some other matters. John spoke about the East Ayrshire Federation which is continuing to meet, and they have had some useful updates from the Council about their Local Housing Strategy and SHIP.
Region 4 – The housing associations in the region were praised for their approach to managing rent arrears through their communication with tenants, and the pressure being felt by the local authorities was recognised. The Sauchie Community Group, part of Clackmannanshire’s Tenants and Residents Federation, won the TIS 2020 Excellence Award for Tenant’s Group of the Year. Shona wanted to share that Link’s Scrutiny Panel had been successful in presenting a business case to Link Group for IT equipment for the panel to continue working remotely.
All – a new Regional Networks Communications Group with representatives from all four regions has been set up to promote better communication, both with the regions and externally on a local and national basis. The regions are hoping to use it as an opportunity to learn from each other’s strengths in terms of engagement and communication. The second meeting of this new group will take place in late January.
June Anderson left the meeting at this point.
There was a short discussion about rent increase consultations given this is usually the time of year that they are carried out, with the representatives sharing the options which they are being asked to consider by their respective landlords.
Any other business
Date of next meeting: Meetings for the rest of 2021 were agreed, as follows:
- 11 May 2021
- 20 July 2021
- 26 October 2021
The group agreed to extend invitations to Colin Stewart and Helen Trouten Torres, SHR board members, to observe the meetings in May and October.