|George Walker (GW)||SHR Chair|
|Andrew Watson||SHR Deputy Chair|
|Marieke Dwarshuis (MD)||SHR Board member|
|Ewan Fraser (EF)||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|
|In attendance at the meeting|
|Michael Cameron (MC)||SHR Chief Executive|
|Helen Shaw (HS)||SHR Director of Regulation (items 1 - 16)|
|Iain Muirhead (IM)||SHR Director of Digital & Business Support (items 1 - 16)|
|Roisin Harris (RH)||SHR Corporate Governance Manager (items 1 - 16)|
|Murray Smith (MS)||SHR Regulation Manager (item 7)|
|Robert Laley (RL)||SHR Assistant Director Digital (item 10)|
|Stephen Lalley (SL)||
SHR Regulation Manager (item 11)
Observing for items 1-16
Christine Lawson (CL)
SHR Business Manager
Jennifer Watson (JW)
SHR Assistant Business Manager
David Allison (DA)
SHR Regulation Analyst
Welcome, Apologies and Declarations
GW welcomed all present. The observers introduced themselves to all present. Siobhan White (SW), SHR Board member, submitted apologies.
CS highlighted the forthcoming decision paper to consider a deregister application from Aberdeen Soroptimists which has transferred its engagements to Osprey Housing. He reported that he:
- and Osprey Housing are both members of North East Tenants, Residents and Landlords Together (NETRALT); and
- has a personal friendship with a previous Chair of Osprey Housing, as well as a working relationship via the North of Scotland Regional Networks and also with a previous Secretary/Treasurer of Osprey Housing’s Tenants & Residents Association who is also the secretary & treasurer for North of Scotland Regional Networks.
The Board noted the declarations and agreed CS did not need to leave the meeting for the consideration of the voluntary deregistration.
LP also reported she works with City of Edinburgh Council, Alybn Housing Association and Viewpoint Housing Association. The Board noted her declarations and that updates on engagement with these organisations are set out in the Corporate Performance Report, which the Board is asked to note. It agreed LP did not need to leave the meeting for that item.
There were no further declarations of interest.
The Board noted and approved the consent agenda items including:
- minutes from 24 May 2022;
- notes of workshops in January and June 2022;
- matters arising; and
- the Chair and member activity report.
Chief Executive Report
MC presented on issues and developments that impact regulated bodies, the wider housing environment and SHR.
- progress in the review of energy standards and reported that SHR has been invited to attend a working group; and
- a recent resilience workshop SHR commissioned with Cranfield University that GWSF and SFHA also attended. He explained the focus on delivery of services for tenants and updated the Board on potential follow up work being discussed to broaden understanding. The Board asked him to circulate some related materials
MC also updated the Board on SHR’s work to respond to the outcome of the spending review since the Board workshop in June 2022. He highlighted financial projection scenarios and noted that pay settlements, would further impact projections. He explained:
- that SHR is now holding vacancies and as a result reviewing capacity to deliver all work plans for 2022/23;
- the regulatory risk assessment methodology to be proposed to the Board in October will be framed to account for reduced SHR resources in 2022/23 and capacity for engagement work in 2023/24;
- that Management Team has begun considering how SHR might flex its regulatory approach; and
- longer term ongoing discussions with Scottish Government around future Housing Bills..
The Board noted work plans in place and opportunities for input and consider future approaches during October and November 2022. It discussed:
- the annual assurance statement process, noting the impact of the pandemic, that SHR had not been able to carry out any assurance visits with landlords, but it had updated guidance for landlords around areas that risk had been identified such as tenant and resident safety. It also noted related ongoing discussions with SFHA and GWSF;
- medium term changes to the overall housing sector and the importance of further discussion on SHR’s strategy, noting this is planned for October and November 2022;
- opportunities for SHR to influence the Scottish Government’s future Housing Bills;
- the importance of landlord accountability around environmental, social and governance matters, the impact that they make on society and their contribution to the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes;
- SHR’s current approach to managing vacancies, noting that only business critical posts or those that can be contained within 2022/23 will be considered by Management Team, uncertainties around the budget, and the potential impact of change at the UK Government level;
- the predicted underspend for 2022/23, noting Scottish Government is aware of SHR’s position and is likely to welcome funding returns and could also seek efficiency savings that SHR’s underspend will contribute to.
The Board noted the Chief Executive’s report. It welcomed further opportunities to expand discussion and planning during October and November 2022.
Action: MC to circulate resilience workshop related materials around SHR Board.
Voluntary Deregistration of Aberdeen Soroptimists Housing Society Ltd
HS presented a recommendation from Management Team for the voluntary deregistration of Aberdeen Soroptimists Housing Society Ltd. She explained the nature of the business and that it has received services from Osprey Housing since 2008 and fully transferred engagements to it in November 2021. HS confirmed that it fully meets the voluntary deregistration criteria.
The Board considered the recommendation and approved the deregistration and removal from the Register under Section 28 of the Housing (Scotland) 2010 Act. It noted SHR will advise Osprey Housing.
Action: HS to remove Aberdeen Soroptimists Housing Society Ltd from the Register and advise Osprey Housing.
BG presented an update from ARAC to the Board, including the draft minutes from its most recent meeting and the annual Statement of Assurance from ARAC to SHR Board and MC as Accountable Officer. BG explained the Statement sets out a summary of ARAC’s work and highlighted the intention for External Auditors to issue an unqualified auditor’s report and that Internal Audit provided a substantial assurance audit opinion. He also explained that ARAC members have a private session with auditors at the end of each meeting.
The Board thanked ARAC members for their work and updates during the year. It noted the Annual Statement of Assurance as context for of the forthcoming consideration of the annual report and accounts. The Board also welcomed that LP and MD had the opportunity to observe the June ARAC meeting.
Annual Report and Accounts 2021/22
IM presented SHR’s Annual Report and Accounts 2021/22. He set out the input across the organisation and from the Board to influence the development of the report. IM highlighted the audit outcome and set out next steps to have the report signed, laid before Parliament and published during September. The Board considered the report and discussed:
- the development process, welcoming the opportunities it had to influence the report;
- a wording error around a reference to the National Panel, asking IM to flag a correction to the auditors ahead of signing; and
- the accessible and informative nature of the report, welcoming this approach.
The Board approved the annual report and accounts for signing electronically by MC as Accountable Officer. It thanked all involved in the production and promotion.
- IM to highlight wording correction to the annual report to the Auditors prior to signing; and
- MC as accountable officer to sign the annual report and accounts electronically with the Auditors.
2022/23 Quarter One Budget Update
IM presented an update on SHR’s budget position at the end of June 2022. He highlighted the earlier related discussions about recruitment, related underspend and future planning under the Chief Executive’s report. IM explained that headings will be adjusted and a mid-year proposal brought to the Board with recommendations for any returns to Scottish Government in November 2022.
The Board considered the report and discussed the potential to utilise the underspend by outsourcing work or investing in staff training. It noted the consideration Management Team has and is giving to such opportunities where they would add value, particularly around areas of expertise and in developing staff skills. The Board noted the wider Scottish Government’s financial position.
The Board thanked IM and noted the quarter one budget update.
Quarter One Corporate Performance Report
MC presented the Corporate Performance Report for quarter one 2022/23. He highlighted the impact of vacancies on SHR’s operating plan for 2022/23 and reported that a review will come to the Board in November 2022. MC also explained the level of reactive work that SHR does alongside planned work. He highlighted significant resources recently assigned to FOI work, and the impact this has had on other planned work. MC also highlighted that SHR has received two registration applications, which are being considered with recommendations to SHR’s Board coming later in 2022/23.
The Board considered the report and discussed:
- annual leave balances, welcoming that staff had the opportunity to take leave over the summer and that targeted discussions are ongoing with anyone who has significant balances. The Board noted that buy-back is generally restricted to extreme circumstances, but is something that SHR could explore if appropriate;
- progress with human rights guidance, noting MC is engaging with the Scottish Human Rights Commission to understand if its capacity or if a different approach is needed;
- current intensive regulatory engagement;
- the increase in tenant and resident safety-related notifiable events, noting that this is a relatively new classification, and welcomed that things like SHR’s survey had raised the profile and focus on this;
- potential for further profile and trend work on regulatory engagement, noting discussions within the Regulation Group to develop this type of analysis;
- an externally commissioned review of tenant satisfaction guidance, noting that SHR will seek to involve its Tenant Advisors in this and also in equalities work;
- the significant resources assigned during the quarter to FOI work and the impact on delivery of other planned work; and
- the criteria threshold for Significant Performance F
The Board thanked MC and noted the quarter one Corporate Performance Report.
- HS to keep SHR’s Board updated on regulatory engagement.
- HS to explore potential to provide more trend analysis on engagement work.
Implementation of the Business Intelligence System
RL presented an update on progress in implementing the Business Intelligence System Strategy 2020 – 2025, to set out the essential changes that SHR is required to make to the technology that supports regulatory activity. He highlighted the work achieved since 2020, explaining the challenges of doing so in a condensed period and for some aspects during the pandemic. RL reported that SHR has good working relationships with suppliers and Scottish Government colleagues. He set out the benefits of Cloud in terms of flexibility, control and security, as well as savings achieved. Finally, RL reported that SHR has achieved six out of the seven success measures set. He explained he will bring a further update on cyber security to the Board later in 2022.
The Board considered the update and discussed:
- the seventh success measure, noting this relates to cyber action planning and that SHR has achieved baseline status, which is in line with considerations on risk exposure, scale and resources. The Board noted that the internal and external access arrangements for BI system/landlord portal and that in time SHR may consider achieving the non-mandatory target status; and
- the intranet, asking IM to confirm if it is possible to achieve access for Board members and agreeing it would be useful to have a demo of both the intranet and BI system.
The Board thanked all involved and noted the update.
- IM to explore if Board members can access SHR’s intranet.
- IM/RL to arrange a BI and intranet demo for Board members.
National Charter Report
HS and SL presented on the findings from the National Charter report, explaining this will be laid before Parliament and published at the end of August 2022 alongside data tables and individual landlord reports and an updated comparison tool. They highlighted
- the different approaches taken to the report due to the impact of the pandemic; and
- the key results, setting out trend analysis and the potential reasons for this.
The Board considered the presentation and discussed:
- digital service provision, noting that tenant surveys have become more digitally based and that the National Panel reportwill also touch on experience and access to digital services.
- SHQS performance, noting the impact of electrical and safety compliance and plans to propose inclusion in the forthcoming regulatory risk assessment, noting SHR is already engaging with all landlords who have reported issues with SHQS;
- landlord capacity to achieve compliance projections, noting the challenges with supply chains and costs and that SHR is monitoring this;
- rent increases, noting that SHR is finalising thematic analysis for publication in September;
- lets to homeless people, noting that while the number of overall lets increased, the proportion to homeless people dropped. It noted ongoing discussions between local authorities and RSLs. HS reported that work has started on a thematic analysis of homelessness data for publication later in 2022/23; and
- the Social Housing Resilience Group, asking MC to discuss with the group if it wishes to review the need for regular reporting and publication of dashboards given the current operating environment.
The Board thanked SL and HS for their presentation and noted the findings and next steps.
Actions: MC to discuss if the Scottish Social Housing Resilience Group wishes to return to collection of data from landlords and publication of dashboards.
GW presented a discussion paper to the Board inviting it to reflect on its own governance arrangements and input to future agenda plans and activities. The Board considered the paper and discussed:
- evolution of SHR’s governance structure as SHR changes;
- the importance of the communication survey to inform SHR’s communication strategy and stakeholder engagement;
- if there is more tenant feedback that could be gained in addition to the formal active structures, noting forthcoming Internal Audit work planned in this area;
- the value in hearing from external speakers, welcoming opportunities to do this more;
- work that the Regional Networks are doing around affordability, noting an update on membership on Regional Network SHR Liaison Group;
- contact emails for SHR Board members, noting Scottish Government security requirements and asking IM to explore this further;
- SHR’s culture, welcoming the current governance set up and arrangements;
- succession planning for ARAC and the skills gap to be addressed;
- committee structure, agreeing this is appropriate for SHR’s size and remit and noting that SHR utilises adhoc working groups as required; and
- interaction with SHR’s staff, noting the restrictions at Buchanan House that impact meetings and larger gatherings and that a staff and Board event is being planned for November 2022. It also noted ongoing discussions with Transport Scotland around SHR’s office arrangements.
- IM to explore email accounts and/or forwarding mailboxes for SHR Board members.
- GW/AW/MC/RH to consider the discussion feedback and use it to shape agenda plans and future Board
AOB - Appeal Panel Arrangements
SHR Board reviewed and agreed a forward rota of members to form any required future appeal panels. It noted that the Board will consider several appealable decisions during 2022/23.
Effectiveness of meetings and papers
The Board agreed the meeting worked well. It noted feedback from the staff observers.
The Board agreed it would hold a short catch up meeting with the Chief Executive during September.
The Board agreed a forward planner of meeting dates for 2023. It agreed that February and August will be held virtually, while it will aim for all other sessions to be in person. The Board also agreed that it was open to meeting outwith Glasgow if this added value to the planned agenda.
Action: RH to circulate diary invitations for all 2023 meeting dates.
The Board held a private meeting with the Chief Executive.
Post meeting notes
Between 23 and 4 October 2022 the Board was briefed or received updates on:
- Scottish Government emergency legislation on rent and associated coverage/reaction
- SHR’s rent thematic
- Resilience workshop
- National Panel of Tenants and Service Users report
- Scottish Government homelessness statistics