|George Walker (GW)||SHR Chair|
|Andrew Watson (AW)||SHR Deputy Chair|
|Marieke Dwarshuis (MD)||SHR Board member|
|Lindsay Paterson (LP)||SHR Board member|
|Colin Stewart (CS)||SHR Board member|
|Helen Trouten Torres (HTT)||SHR Board member|
|Bob Gill (BG)||SHR Board member|
|Ewan Fraser (EF)||SHR Board member|
|Siobhan White (SW)||SHR Board member|
|In attendance at the meeting|
|Michael Cameron (MC)||SHR Chief Executive|
|Helen Shaw (HS)||SHR Director of Regulation|
|Iain Muirhead (IM)||SHR Director of Digital & Business Support|
|Nicola Harcus (NH)||SHR Assistant Director|
|Margaret Sharkey (MS)||SHR Assistant Director|
|Shaun Keenan||SHR Assistant Director|
|Robert Laley (RL)||SHR Assistant Director Digital|
|Roisin Harris (RH)||SHR Corporate Governance Manager|
|John Jellema (JJ)||SHR Assistant Director of Regulation|
Welcome, Apologies and Declarations
GW welcomed all present. There were no apologies or declarations.
GW updated the Board on some recent correspondence with an MSP and asked RH to circulate this for information. The Board noted assistance and advice that GW took in providing a response. It also noted that the Scottish Information Commissioner is considering a related Freedom of Information appeal. Board noted the ongoing resource input for SHR.
GW highlighted that he and MC will meet with the Local Government, Housing & Planning Committee to give evidence on SHR’s 2021/22 annual report and accounts in December 2022.
The Board noted the Chair’s updates.
Action: RH to provide the Board with copies of the correspondence.
Chief Executive Report
MC presented on issues and developments that impact regulated bodies, the wider housing environment and SHR.
MC updated the Board on the emergency housing legislation, reporting this has been passed by the Scottish Parliament and on the associated timescales for implementation and review. MC reported that the Scottish Government has established a task and finish group to determine what will happen 1 April 2023 and that he and HS are participating along with a range of stakeholders. MC explained work ongoing to develop an agreement between Scottish Government and social landlords and that an announcement is expected early in 2023 on the outcome.
The Board discussed:
- work social landlords are currently doing to model their budgets, noting that SHR wrote to all to advise on rent consultation and the importance of stress-testing business plans and that they have been consulting on a range of scenarios;
- local authorities’ rent plans, noting the potential impact of the Common Debt Fund, which could mean a different impact from that experienced by RSLs; and
- some feedback from stakeholders including representative bodies.
MC updated the Board on SHR’s budget. He reported that Scottish Government is planning to present the budget to the Scottish Parliament on 15 December 2022. MC set out some planning work that SHR has prepared, explaining that that Scottish Government asked it to model cuts as parts of Scottish Government and/or public bodies are likely to experience this scenario. MC set out the impact that such cuts would have on SHR alongside a range of other budget scenarios for 2023/24 and future years. He confirmed that he has explained this to Scottish Government officials and submitted the modelling. The Board considered the budget update and discussed:
- assumptions around future pay settlements and how this applies across SHR’s workforce;
- other embedded costs that will increase over time for SHR; and
- when resource restraints would limit SHR’s ability to deliver against its functions.
GW reported that he and MC are seeking a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary to discuss funding and if this is not possible, he will write to her ahead of the Board meeting on 6 December, which the Cabinet Secretary is due to attend.
HS reported to the Board on SHR’s engagement with Reidvale Housing Association and related feedback from some stakeholders. She explained that SHR will be updating Reidvale’s engagement plan to reflect that is has decided to seek a partner and this will also reflect the context.
The Board noted the Chief Executive’s report and updates.
Action: GW to meet or write to the Cabinet Secretary setting out SHR’s budget position and the impact of the scenario budget planning.
Mid-Year Budget Review
SK presented the quarter two budget update and mid-year review proposals for return of funding to Scottish Government. He explained the forecasted underspend is mainly due to SHR not being able to recruit and having to hold vacancies to contribute to the previously indicated multi-year budget indications from Scottish Government. He also set out variances and areas of potential underspend. The Board considered the budget report and mid-year proposals and discussed:
- timing for returning funding to Scottish Government and the importance of explaining that this is due to paused recruitment, noting this was exactly the same reason for retuning funding in the last financial year;
- the sustained pressure on SHR’s staff team and workforce planning, noting ongoing exploration with Scottish Government HR and other delivery bodies around collaborative support and how this will focus on skills, demographics and turnover. It also discussed the limited time for delivery in 2022/23;
- SHR’s capital budget, noting a contribution to work at the future office is yet to be clarified by Transport Scotland, noting IM will keep the Board updated on this;
- capacity to delivery things like the landlord forums if revenue is returned noting contingency held and that these meetings have been taken into account in the budget.
The Board noted the budget update as at 30 September 2022 and approved the re-stated revenue budget including return of £100,000 to Scottish Government.
Action: SK to facilitate return of £100,000 revenue funding to the Scottish Government explaining this is due to paused recruitment in response to the spending review.
Mid-Year Operating Plan Review
MC presented mid-year proposals to adjust SHR’s operating plan for 2022/23. MC set out the complex context for the proposals including continued uncertainties around future budgets and the impact of holding vacancies as well as making space to develop responses to future positions.
MC highlighted the work that SHR has already achieved during the year to date, as well as proposals for adjustments. HS explained the Regulation Group’s position highlighting the focus on the risk assessment and the impact of carrying vacancies and intensive casework on resourcing other work plans. IM explained the challenges in the Digital and Business Support Group including restructuring, unplanned interim office move and temporary resourcing in place. The Board considered the proposals and discussed:
- the importance of setting out the context and impact when returning revenue to Scottish Government;
- the risk-based approach that Management Team used to identify change proposals, agreeing this should also be explained to Scottish Government;
- future status of any work identified as postponed, given the likely budget context;
- Scottish Government work groups that SHR participates in; and
- new work that SHR has done or is doing such as the rent increase thematic and early work to explore a thematic in response to a request from Gypsy/Travellers.
The Board noted the operating plan update and welcomed the achievements in the year to date. It approved the proposed mid-year review adjustments and agreed it is very important for SHR to set this out for Scottish Government when retuning funds around future budgets. The Board noted that further operating plan changes may need to happen depending on the outcome of budget for 2023/24.
Action: MC to implement proposed adjustments to SHR’s operation plan. He and GW to ensure Scottish Government is aware of the impact of in-year and future amendments to work plans.
IM presented proposals for SHR’s response to the Scottish Government’s requirement to set dates for targets to reduce carbon emissions and related commitments. He highlighted the impact of the office move and explained that he will update narrative to align with spending plans. The Board considered the proposals and discussed:
- the footprint of the new office space; and
- impact of working from home and related energy consumption noting this has been incorporated.
The Board approved the proposals and noted these will be incorporated into a wider return to Scottish Government during November 2022.
Actions: IM to implement proposals and incorporate these into the Climate Change return to Scottish Government in November 2022.
Future Strategy workshop
The Board and Management considered SHR’s future strategy, how SHR can respond to the changes in its operating environment and set itself for forthcoming years.
The Board noted that the Cabinet Secretary would not be able to meet in-person and officials will work with SHR to seek to facilitate a virtual meeting on 6 December 2022.
The Board welcomed the opportunity to attend an in-person all staff event that followed on from the meeting and workshop.
6 December 2022