SHR Board Meeting - Minutes 15 September 2020

Present

Present  
George Walker (GW) SHR Chair
Andrew Watson (AW) SHR Board Member (not present for item 5)
Helen Trouten Torres (HTT) SHR Board Member (not present for item 5)
Colin Stewart (CS) SHR Board Member
Ewan Fraser (EF) SHR Board Member
Siobhan White (SW) SHR Board Member
Bob Gill (BG) SHR Board Member
In attendance  
Michael Cameron (MC) SHR Chief Executive
Iain Muirhead (IM) SHR Director of Digital & Business Support (items 1-9)
Roisin Harris (RH) SHR Corporate Governance Manager (items 1-9)
Margaret Sharkey (MS) SHR Assistant Director of Regulation (items 4-5)

 

Apologies and declarations of interest

GW welcomed all present.  The Board noted apologies from Mike Dailly (MD), SHR Board member and Ian Brennan (IB), SHR Director of Regulation. It also noted that that SHR Board member SW would join the meeting later.

There were no declarations of interest.

Consent Agenda

AW reported that he had attended Berwickshire Housing Association AGM.  

RH confirmed that she will add that the Board received briefings on adjustments to SHR’s regulatory approach to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. and information on SHR website visits between meetings to the minutes from 25 August 2020 prior to publication. 

The Board noted and approved the consent agenda items including:

  • minutes from 25 August 2020 Board meeting;
  • matters arising; and

Chair and member activity report. 

Chief Executive Report

MC presented the information on issues and developments that impact regulated bodies, the wider housing environment and SHR. 

He highlighted that SHR is fully aligned to Scottish Government recovery planning and that the current working assumption is that no staff will return to the office until at least January 2020.  He explained that this also means no face to face external meetings unless the meeting is deemed essential activity, and he noted the challenges this presents for SHR around engaging with regulated bodies.

MC confirmed that he is seeking more guidance from Scottish Government on how essential activity is defined and the risk assessment that must accompany face to face activity to protect staff.  MC explained that SHR is actively considering the implications for how it works and what alternative tools are available. 

The Board considered the update and discussed:

  • the risks and challenges and the potential impact regulation approaches; and
  • risk assessment tools available, noting requests to Scottish Government and other public bodies who have had to continue face to face engagement during lockdown.

MC also highlighted the outcome of advisory work by SHR’s Internal Auditor on the statutory intervention process and explained plans for a case study based workshop in January 2021.  The Board noted that ARAC had received and discussed the advisory report on 8 September 2020. 

The Board considered the advisory work and discussed value for money.  It noted that direct cost information is provided in each account on intervention and that further monthly monitoring is being developed and will be reported to the Board quarterly from November 2020.  MC explained that as well as costs expended, there are benefits accrued that can be challenging to quantify as these often extend well beyond the lifetime of an intervention.

The Board noted an advisory recommendation from the Internal Audit report around how appeal panels are formed.  BG and EF reported on ARAC’s discussion that recognized the benefit of being able to fit member skills to any potential appeal panel, especially given the small nature of SHR’s Board.   It agreed to discuss appeals further at the workshop in January 2021.

The Board also discussed proportionality and the cost challenges for small organisations.

The Board also noted that benefits can spread beyond a single case by helping to protect the reputation of the entire social housing sector.  Finally it reflected how challenging it is to predict all the issues that might emerge. 

The Board noted the Chief Executive’s report and welcomed the opportunity for further discussion on statutory intervention at a workshop in January 2021. 

Complaints Handling Procedure

RH presented revisions to SHR’s complaints handling procedures to align with the new Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s model.  She highlighted the timescale for implementation and the key areas that differ from the current arrangements.  RH also explained plans to align publication with production of a new edition of the How We Work – statutory interventions publication that will set out how to raise concerns about statutory managers and appointees.

The Board consider the proposed new procedures and discussed:

  • handling concerns around statutory appointees, welcoming that SHR is proposing to take the time to develop this in a new publication of How We Work;
  • the importance of clarity around the definitions of complaints and providing alternative route maps where something cannot be covered by the model complaints handling procedures; and
  • how complaining should be a positive learning experience.

The Board welcomed alignment with the new SPSO model. It approved the complaints handling procedures and noted work to be done to implement these.  It welcomed the development of a new How We Work edition and the plan to publish it and the new complaints procedures by April 2021. 

Action: RH to proceed with implementing the new complaints handling procedures by April 2021.

De-registration of Arklet Housing Association

MS presented a request for voluntary deregistration by Arklet Housing Association.  MS explained the background and that Arklet transferred engagements to Hanover Housing Association in November 2019.  She set out how Arklet has met all the criteria required for removal. 

The Board considered the requested and approved voluntary deregistration of Arklet Housing Association and noted associated communication plans.

Action: MS to deregister Arklet Housing Association.

Effectiveness of meeting and papers

The Board agreed to continue with video conference-based meetings and discussed the functionality of the platform it is currently using. 

Agenda planner, meeting dates 2021 and DONM

6 October 2020.

The Board agreed a sequence of meeting dates for 2021 and that it would explore additional dates to allow for meeting every month if required.

AOB

MC confirmed that planning for the timing of possible thematic work, which could be around homelessness, is set out in the restated Corporate Plan that will be published shortly and that a related matters arising item is completed. 

Private session

The Board held a private session with the Chief Executive.