|George Walker (GW)||SHR 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|
|Andrew Watson (AW)||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|
|Roisin Harris (RH)||SHR Corporate Governance Manager|
Welcome & Apologies
GW welcomed all present to the first face to face SHR Board meeting since 2020. SHR Board member Bob Gill (BG) submitted apologies
The Board held a private session with all present.
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
The Board noted and approved the consent agenda items including:
- minutes from 29 March 2022 Board meeting;
- a matters arising report; 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.
MC highlighted publication of the last Covid Dashboard for the Scottish Social Housing Resilience Group. He explained that the Group had discussed potentially revisiting aspects in the future, but as this has a resource implication for SHR he would bring any proposal back to SHR’s Board for consideration.
HS updated the Board on a recent meeting with lenders and investors and the Board discussed ratings as well as the importance of the relationship between effective regulation and sector investment.
MC and IM updated the Board on plans to commission a project to seek views from stakeholders on how SHR communicates. The Board welcomed the commission and encouraged consideration of other commission opportunities during 2022/23. IM confirmed the methodology will likely be a survey.
MC also updated the Board on SHR office reopening and it noted the continued restrictions in place at Buchanan House and also discussed plans for the future office move in 2023. The Board noted the new office would be a smaller footprint and reduce SHR’s costs.
The Board noted the Chief Executive’s report.
Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies
RH presented the Scottish Government’s new Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies to the Board. She highlighted the changes from the previous code and clarification received around declaration of shares and securities as well as the changes around gifts and hospitality. RH also highlighted the updates made to SHR’s guidance for members on social media and the suite of advice and guidance provided by the Standards Commission for Scotland to support members around the code of conduct.
The Board considered the code and agreed to fully adopt it. It noted the accompanying Standards Commission advice and guidance and SHR’s guidance on social media. The Board also noted the changes in the approach to registering gifts and hospitality set out in the code. It also agreed to update member declarations of interests to align with the new code.
Action: RH to work with SHR Board members to implement the new code and update the published information on SHR’s website.
Outcome of the regulatory risk assessment
HS presented on the outcome of the regulatory risk assessment, setting out the key areas of consideration and the outcomes for RSLs and local authorities. The Board discussed:
- the issues identified and how these change for organisations over time and noting that assurance may be requested across several areas from some landlords;
- duties under Section 72 of the 2010 act for auditors and reporting accountants to disclose information of material significance to SHR and that auditors will consider some areas that have formed part of SHR’s regulatory risk assessment;
- the focus on development, noting recent feedback from RSLs and the challenges that some organisations are facing;
- the findings of the survey on health and safety and assurance work that continues in this area, noting that SHR is considering how to include further information on duties within the forthcoming refresh of its asset management recommended practice;
- the relationship between local authorities and RSLs around lets to people experiencing homelessness;
- ongoing engagement with providers of Gypsy/Traveller sites around achieving the minimum standards set by Scottish Government and engagement with Fire and Rescue Scotland;
- compliance with the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS), noting the latest Charter submissions will be submitted to SHR by the end of May 2022. The Board also noted that while exemptions and abeyances may be applied to aspects of dwellings for example kitchen space standards in pre-19 tenants - where reconfiguration is challenging, it does not mean that investment has or will not take place in kitchens in these dwellings and that the rest of the dwelling will not meet the rest of the SHQS criteria. It also noted that landlords are obliged to keep any exemptions or abeyances used under review; and
- engagement with systemically important RSLs.
Finally, HS set out some early reflections from the risk assessment. She outlined plans to improve data accuracy and amend verification checking, consider organisational resilience as well as some further analysis around rent increases. The Board discussed:
- the potential for and nature of assurance visits to RSLs;
- work planned on minute taking; and
- the resources associated with the risk assessment and how it shapes SHRs engagement with social landlords.
The Board noted and thanked HS for her presentation and update.
CIH Housing Festival
The Board discussed the recent CIH Housing Festival. It welcomed the return of an in-person event and agreed it was useful to attend and engage with a wide range of stakeholders and hear about their priorities. It noted the cost of living crisis as a contextual theme highlighted in many presentations as well as challenges with some policy implementation. The Board also welcomed the opportunity for Board members to participate in a lunchtime meeting organised by CIH.
Homelessness – Court of Session Judgement
LP presented to the Board on a recent Court of Session judgement concerning the obligation of a council to provide accommodation which is suitable for occupation by a household that is homeless, taking account of the needs of the household.
The Board noted and discussed the potential implications and consequences of judgement and the significance of case law. The Board welcomed an opportunity to discuss homelessness further at a forthcoming workshop.
Effectiveness of meetings and papers, AOB, agenda planner & DONMs
The Board welcomed the opportunity to meet in-person and GW thanked everyone for attending. It agreed to meet in person for a workshop in June, to meet virtually in August and to return to in-person meetings again during the autumn.
Media – MC updated the Board on recent information requests to some RSLs.
Board terms – GW updated the Board on succession planning for SHR Board.
Post meeting notes
Between 24 May 2022 and 23 August 2022 the Board was briefed or received updates on:
- Standards Commission survey response and a new advice note about online meetings;
- SHR’s office;
- correspondence with MSPs;
- engagement with GWSF;
- media coverage on evictions; and
- an update on SHR’s Tenant Advisors.