SHR Board meeting minutes - 5 October 2021

Published

10 December 2021

Updated

10 December 2021

Present

Present  
George Walker (GW) SHR Chair
Siobhan White (SW)   SHR Board member
Colin Stewart (CS) SHR Board member
Ewan Fraser (EF) SHR Board member
Andrew Watson (AW)            SHR Board member
Helen Trouten Torres (HTT)  SHR Board member 
Bob Gill (BG) SHR Board member
In attendance  
Michael Cameron (MC) SHR Chief Executive
Ian Brennan (IB)

SHR Director of Regulation (items 1- 9)

Iain Muirhead (IM)

SHR Director of Digital & Business Support (items 1- 9)

Roisin Harris (RH)

SHR Corporate Governance Manager (items 1- 9)

Nigel Gregory (NG)

SHR Regulation Manager (item 5)

Helen Shaw (HS)

SHR Assistant Director (item 6)

Nicola Harcus (NH)

SHR Assistant Director (item 7)

Observers

 

Fiona Johnstone (FJ)

SHR Finance Officer(items 1 – 9)

Stephen Lalley (SL)

SHR Regulation Analyst (items 1 - 9)

 

Apologies and declarations of interest

GW welcomed all present, especially FJ as a new member of SHR’s staff team.   There were no apologies or declarations of interest.   

Consent Agenda

The Board noted and approved the consent agenda items including:

  • minutes from 31 August 2021 Board meeting;
  • a matters arising report;
  • ARAC update and statement of assurance; and
  • the Chair and member activity report.

The Board also thanked ARAC members for all the work during the year that had contributed to the Statement of Assurance. 

Chief Executive Report

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

  • work with the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Chartered Institute of Housing to develop a briefing for social landlords on human rights; and
  • work the SFHA are doing to understand the scale of supply chain challenges for landlords, explaining the potential impact on services, new build plans and work relating to achieving net zero targets.

The Board considered the report and discussed:

  • face to face meetings, noting forthcoming guidance updates expected from Scottish Government and that SHR continues to engage with all stakeholders including governing bodies virtually;
  • how SHR’s risk assessment of landlords will take account of the impact of any supply chain issues, noting SHR’s guidance on recasting business plans in the context of the pandemic, and asked IB to keep it updated of any emerging issues;
  • the forthcoming Board meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, noting CS has met with her via the tenant networks. Noting that GW also has an introductory meeting with the new Minister for Zero Carbo Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights;
  • SHR’s office, noting preparation work for when staff are permitted to return and current plans for how that will be phased in line with Scottish Government guidelines;
  • ongoing recruitment work, noting concerns raised by auditors and welcoming an ARAC decision to ask SW as Chair to write to Scottish Government Corporate Services to highlight these.

The Board thanked MC for the update and noted the report.

Actions:

  • MC to share SFHA’s work on supply chain when available and IB to keep the Board updated on any related emerging issues.

Account of Intervention in Arklet Housing Association

MS presented SHR’s account of intervention in Arklet Housing Association to the Board.  She set out the context for SHR’s intervention and reported on the progress made by Arklet, confirming it is now compliant with regulatory requirements.

The Board considered the report and discussed:

  • its importance as a learning tool for other organisations;
  • whistle-blowing, noting that SHR asked Arklet to investigate all the allegations made and agreed this could be clearer in the account of SHR’s intervention; and
  • the impact of the intervention on tenants, noting the cost savings, investment in homes and rent reductions that will be achieved following the transfer of engagements to Hanover Housing Association.

The Board thanks MS and her team.  It welcomed the opportunity to discuss accounts of intervention ahead of publication.  It noted forthcoming accounts, including intervention in Thistle and Ruchazie Housing Associations. 

 Actions:

MS to review the report wording relating to whistle-blowing allegations.

Annual Report & Accounts

IM presented SHR’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2020/21.  He explained the work done to draw these together.  He highlighted:

  • scrutiny by ARAC during September 2021;
  • the ARAC Statement of Assurance; and
  • the unqualified audit opinion.

IM also explained the process for signing and publishing the annual report and accounts. 

The Board thanked all involved in production and approved the annual report and accounts for MC as accountable officer to sign.  

Action: MC to sign the Annual Report and Accounts using DocuSign.  

 

 

Risk Assessment Methodology

IB set out the context for developing the risk assessment approach for 2021/22 in the context of the pandemic and the previous risk assessment.  He highlighted work planned around development, supply chains and planning for continued uncertainties. 

HS presented the proposed risk assessment methodology to the Board. She explained this has been designed to be a more comprehensive risk assessment following the pared down approach last year.  HS highlighted the importance of considering:

  • the impact of the pandemic on landlords;
  • the recovery and catch up work that is taking place;
  • the impact of continued uncertainties and how landlords are planning for this;
  • emerging housing policy agendas;
  • the forthcoming pension valuation; and
  • cyber security threats.

HS set out the performance areas that SHR is proposing to focus on. She highlighted some focus areas including: homelessness, tenant and resident safety, stock condition knowledge, business planning, handling of supply chain issues and the related knock on impact, including on rent affordability.  

Finally HS outlined the timeframe for the risk assessment and the potential delivery challenges for SHR’s staff.  

The Board considered the proposed risk assessment methodology and discussed:

  • SHR’s engagement with landlords and asked HS to reflect the full extent, including virtual meetings, when SHR publishes a summary of the risks that SHR will focus on;
  • importance of considering National Insurance as well as Universal Credit changes;
  • landlord decisions around rent and how these are reflected in the context of investment and new cost decisions in business plans, agreeing transparency is important;
  • potential policy developments around value for money and procurement efficiency in connection to access grants;
  • landlord obligations around existing stock, noting this is different from participation in new build programmes, the economic factors that may drive changes as landlords seek to achieve acceptable and affordable service provision and stock quality;
  • Scottish Housing Quality Standards (SHQS) noting how SHR considers exemptions and abeyances and the related business plan impacts as part of the risk assessment. It welcomed this and noted work planned for SHR’s asset management guidance.  The Board also noted housing quality policy challenges for other aspects of the housing sector around any disposals of social housing stock.

The Board thanked HS and IB.  It approved the proposed risk assessment methodology noting that the SHR will publish details on the indicators that it will consider at the end of November 2021. 

Actions: HS to include reference to virtual meetings with landlords in the publication on the risks that it will focus on. 

Deregistration – Kendoon Housing Association

NH presented a recommendation from SHR Management Team to de-register Kendoon Housing Association.  She explained, that as it has transferred its engagements to Pineview Housing Association on 1 February 2021 and has already been removed from the Mutual Publics Register, this recommendation is for compulsory removal under Section 27 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010.   The Board considered the proposal and discussed the compulsory nature of the deregistration, welcoming plans to review guidance for landlords. It considered the criteria for removal and approved the compulsory removal of Kendoon from the Register under section 27 of the 2010 Act and noted that SHR would write to Pineview Housing Association to advise of the removal. 

Action: NH to remove Kendoon Housing Association from the register and advise Pineview Housing Association.

Effectiveness of meetings and papers & AOB

The Board agreed that the quality of papers allowed for good discussion.   It discussed the agenda planner and potential for some meetings to remain virtual once restrictions are eased and noted that SHR is also making plans to support hybrid meetings in the office. 

FJ and SL thanked the Board for the opportunity to observe and provided feedback on their experience.  

DONMs

The Board noted that it will:

  • meet with Management Team for a workshop on 2 November 2021; and
  • meet on 7 December 2021.

Post meeting notes

Between 5 October 2021 and 7 December 2021 the Board was briefed or received updates on:

  • Appointment of new Board members
  • MOU with OSCR
  • Work to reopen SHR’s office
  • Scottish Government’s Heat in Building Strategy
  • How we work – using our statutory powers publication
  • Account of intervention in Arklet Housing Association
  • SHR’s new office
  • Quarter report on the impact of Covid-19 on social landlords
  • Updates on advice to governing body members during Covid-19
  • The risks we will focus on publication
  • Analysis of RSLs’ annual loan portfolio returns
  • Ending of Statutory Intervention at Fairfield Housing Association
  • Publication of SHR’s annual report and accounts 2020/21