SHR Board meeting minutes - 25 May 2021

Published

05 October 2021

Updated

05 October 2021

Present

George Walker (GW)              SHR Chair

Siobhan White (SW)               SHR Board member

Colin Stewart (CS)                  SHR Board member

Ewan Fraser (EF)                    SHR Board member  

 

In attendance

Michael Cameron (MC)           SHR Chief Executive

Ian Brennan (IB)                    SHR Director of Regulation (items 1- 10)

Iain Muirhead (IM)                 SHR Director of Digital & Business Support (items 1 – 10)

Kirsty Porter (KP)                   SHR Regulation Manager (items 1 – 10)

Helen Shaw (HS)                    SHR Assistant Direction (item 7)

Apologies and declarations of interest

GW welcomed all present, especially KP as temporary secretariat cover.  Apologies were submitted by Andrew Watson (AW), Helen Trouten Torres (HTT) and Bob Gill (BG), SHR Board members as well as Roisin Harris (RH) SHR Corporate Governance Manager.  

There were no declarations of interest. 

The Board noted the apologies.

Consent Agenda

The Board noted and approved the consent agenda items including:

  • minutes from 23 March 2021 Board meeting. IM confirmed that the Scottish Government’s National Outcome headings were added to SHR’s Framework Agreement with Scottish Ministers ahead of publication, as requested by SHR Board;
  • 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.  He highlighted:

  • the removal of Thistle Housing Association from the Register of Social Landlords;
  • an update on the Zero Emission Social Housing Taskforce (ZEST), reporting this aims to make recommendations to the Scottish Government by the end of June 2021. The Board noted its forthcoming strategy day in June will focus on the Housing to 2040 and zero emissions;
  • SHR’s ongoing recruitment programme;
  • work to prepare for returning to the office and considerations around SHR’s longer term office space, explaining that a paper on longer term office arrangements will be brought to the Board in June.

The Board considered the update and discussed:

  • the potential for, and impact of, secondments in and out of SHR, the need to support SHR staff and the benefits of using external support in particular circumstances;
  • the importance of the zero emission and the climate change agenda;
  • work to open the new loan portfolio return, noting the delay in opening and the impact on RSLs;
  • the decision-making process around SHR’s future office accommodation, asking IM to provide further market analysis and benchmarking for the Board in consider in June along with more detail on SHR’s office partnership arrangements with Transport Scotland; and
  • the move from monthly to quarterly Covid-19 returns from landlords, noting the recently reported mixed picture in terms of rent arrears.

The Board thanked MC for the update.

Actions: IM to to provide further market analysis and benchmarking for the Board in consider in June along with detail on SHR’s office partnership arrangements with Transport Scotland.

Annual Report Narrative

IM presented draft narrative for the 2020/21 annual report. He explained the development work since the Board last reviewed the report in March and highlighted the timetable leading to publication in October 2021. 

The Board considered the report narrative and discussed:

  • the increased frequency of Board meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic and asked IM to reflect this in the narrative and to make a minor date correction; and
  • the format of the report, noting that certain designs used in older annual reports do not meet with accessibility regulations, but that the report will look more interactive when presented on SHR’s website.

The Board noted the update and approved the narrative.

 Actions: IM/RH to finalise the narrative taking account of feedback from the Board for audit during June 2021.

Q4 Corporate Performance Report & risk register

MC presented the quarter four corporate performance report.  He highlighted the shift to enhanced reporting on our regulatory activity.   

The Board considered the report and welcomed the revised format around regulatory activity.  It agreed this was an appropriate and useful reflection of ongoing work. 

The Board noted the Q4 Corporate Performance Report.

 

Outcome of the risk assessment

IB and HS presented the outcome of the annual risk assessment to the Board.  They highlighted that publication of a regulatory status for each RSL completes the implementation of the SHR’s Regulatory Framework and is significant in how SHR regulates.  HS and IB set out the approach SHR took to the risk assessment and explained how discussion with landlords was helpful in how the outcome was received by the sector. 

HS reminded the Board of the focus on how landlords are responding to the pandemic in relation to key priority areas including:

  • governance;
  • financial health;
  • homelessness; and
  • tenant and resident safety.

She explained how these areas are impacted by the pandemic and require both careful focus on by landlords as well as SHR in order to protect the interests of tenants and service users. 

HS also explained that SHR will continue to review its approach risk assessment to reflect the continuing uncertainty of the operating environment and the significant challenges landlords still face. 

The Board considered the outcome of the risk assessment and discussed:

  • the overall outcome, noting that the position is generally positive, reflecting the resilience of the sector during the pandemic, but that significant and as yet unquantified challenges remain;
  • the key challenges facing the sector, agreeing these include resuming core service, development of new homes, digitalisation, health and safety, fuel poverty, zero carbon as well as the potential impact these all have on affordability; and
  • the principles set out in SHR’s Business Planning Recommended Practice update, agreeing that it will be important for RSLs to fully consider and reflect these challenges.

The Board thanked all of the staff involved in delivering the risk assessment and noted the outcome. 

Actions:

  • IB to circulate the Monthly Covid-19 dashboard (April 2021) which sets out more information about the impact on rent arrears since the start of the pandemic.
  • Board to consider SHR’s response to the key challenges set out above at the strategy day on 15th June 2021.

AOB

CS reported that he has been appointed as Chair of the Region One of the Regional Networks.  The Board noted his declaration.  

Effectiveness of meetings and papers

The Board confirmed that they are content that meetings are effective.  

DONMs

The Board noted that it:

  • will hold a strategy day with SHR’s Management Team focused on Housing to 2040 and zero carbon on 15 June 2021 with guests from Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust;
  • plans to meet privately with the Chief Executive on 27 July 2021, depending on availability; and
  • will meet on 31 August 2021, and agreed to extend an invitation to the new Cabinet Sectary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government.

Actions:

  • RH to circulate the strategy day agenda; and  
  • GW to invite the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government to meet with SHR’s Board.

Private session

The Board held a private session with the Chief Executive.

Post meeting notes

Between 25 May 2021 and 31 August 2021 the Board was briefed or received updates on:

  • Disclosure requirements for statutory accounts
  • Appointment of Assistant Director
  • Publications including, updated engagement plans, guidance on collecting equalities data, advice on preparation of annual assurance statements, an analysis report on the impact of Covid-19 on social landlords, first quarterly Covid-19 dashboard and the National Panel report
  • National Charter Report
  • Zero Emissions in Social Housing Taskforce report