SHR Board Meeting - Minutes - 6 October 2020

Present

Present  
George Walker (GW) SHR Chair
Siobhan White (SW) SHR Board Member
Helen Trouten Torres (HTT) SHR Board Member
Colin Stewart (CS) SHR Board Member
Bob Gill (BG) SHR Board Member
Mike Daily (MD) SHR Board Member (not present for part of item 7)
In attendance  
Michael Cameron (MC) SHR Chief Executive
Iain Muirhead (IM) SHR Director of Digital & Business Support (items 1-10)
Ian Brennan (IB)

SHR Director of Regulation (items 1- 10)

Roisin Harris (RH) SHR Corporate Governance Manager (items 1-10)
Clare Nicolson (CN)

SHR Business Manager (item 4)

Shazia Razzaq (SR)  SHR Assistant Director of Regulation (items 5-10)
Helen Shaw (HS) SHR Assistant Director of Regulation (items 7-10)
Staff observers  
Nicola Harcus SHR Regulation Manager (items 1 – 10)
Stephen Lallley SHR Regulation Analyst (items 1- 3)

Apologies and declarations of interest

GW welcomed all present, especially the staff observers.  The Board noted apologies from SHR Board members Ewan Fraser (EF) and Andrew Watson (AW).

There were no declarations of interest.

Consent Agenda

The Board noted and approved the consent agenda items including:

  • minutes from 15 September 2020 Board meeting (subject to removal of a typo);
  • matters arising report;
  • Chair and member activity report; and
  • ARAC update including the 2019/20 Statement of Assurance from ARAC to SHR Board & Accountable Officer.

Chief Executive Report

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

He highlighted that SHR staff are currently participating in the 2020 Civil Service People survey and that last year the Board also ran a short survey to cover staff views on the Board that cannot be included in the People survey.  The Board discussed the proposed survey and agreed to run it again in 2020.  It considered the questions and agreed continuation of core questions for comparison would be useful and noted that the People Survey covers the Covid-19 Pandemic.  The Board also agreed it was important to allow staff to also provide feedback commentary.  The Board asked GW to agree the final survey questions with RH and MC. 

MC also updated the Board on SHR’s engagement with Glasgow City Council and its inquiry into its service for people who are homelessness. He reported that SHR issued a draft inquiry report to the Council and that the Council has today provided feedback.  MC confirmed SHR will consider the feedback including any new evidence before publishing a report.  He explained that engagement with the Council would continue thereafter and the Board asked MC to keep it updated. 

IB updated the Board on pre-ballot consultation work Thistle and Sanctuary Scotland Housing Associations are doing to prepare for a proposed transfer of assets.  The Board noted the update.. 

The Board noted the Chief Executive’s report.

Actions:

  • GW/MC/RH to finalise survey questions for staff on SHR Board.
  • MC to keep the Board updated on engagement with Glasgow City Council on the inquiry into services for people who are homeless and future engagement.

 

SHR Annual Report & Accounts

CN presented SHR’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2019/20.  She highlighted that ARAC considered this in September and has provided an Annual Statement of Assurance for the Board and Accountable Officer.  CN explained that signing would take place using Audit Scotland software following the meeting and the report would be laid before Parliament and published around the end of October 2020.  CN highlighted this is the first year the report will be produced to meet new accessibility regulations and that SHR received an unqualified Auditor’s opinion as set out in the report. 

The Board considered the report.  It discussed tenant and service user feedback and asked IM to add further examples of how SHR used feedback during engagement with stakeholders.   The Board noted that IM must highlight any further proposed changes to the report SHR’s auditors for consideration ahead of signing and laying the report before Parliament.

Action: IM to add further examples to the Annual Report of how SHR used tenant and service user feedback during engagement with stakeholders and alert the Auditors to any proposed changes. 

Lessons Learned – voluntary de-registration

RH presented on lessons learned during the process of the voluntary deregistration of Arklet Housing Association.  She highlighted lessons that SHR has learned in going through the process of a voluntary de-registration and some changes it is making.  In light of this, RH also set out recommendations for updating SHR Board’s Standing Orders.

The Board approved the amendments to the Standing Orders The Board also noted the lessons learned and updates that SHR is making.  The Board noted that SHR will update the Standing Orders and SHR’s Operational Scheme of Delegated Authority, which are published on its website.

Deregistration of Wishaw & District Housing Association

RH presented on the voluntary deregistration of Wishaw & District Housing Association.  RH explained the background and that Wishaw & District Housing Association transferred engagements to Trust Housing Association in December 2019.  She highlighted how SHR had assessed that Wishaw & District Housing Association had met all the criteria required for voluntary removal from the Register. 

The Board agreed to ratify the decision to de-register Wishaw & District Housing Association.

Action: SR to remove Wishaw & District Housing Association from the register.

Update on the development of the risk assessment methodology

IB and HS presented an update to the Board on the development of the forthcoming risk assessment methodology.  IB set out the proposed areas of focus including:

  • services for people who are or could become homeless
  • tenant and resident safety; and
  • RSL governance; and
  • financial health in RSLs.

IB explained that, as a consequence of COVID-19, he was proposing that the risk assessment would have a narrower focus than in previous years in order to concentrate on the key issues facing landlords and their tenants during the pandemic. This would mean that in some areas we would respond to issues that emerge rather than pro-actively engaging in anticipation of issues.

IB reported that the list of systemically important RSLs would remain unchanged in 2020/21.

The Board welcome the areas of focus, agreeing these are important.  It also discussed:

  • annual rent increases, affordability including all the costs of living in a home and the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic on household incomes;
  • RSL 30 year business planning assumptions around rent, noting SHR’s recently updated recommended practice on business planning and that cost drivers can include pension costs for some landlords;
  • the financial pressure local authorities are experiencing, noting forums for SHR to engage with the Accounts Commission;
  • varying experiences of tenants of rent consultation exercises;
  • the key messages around affordability that SHR has been promoting through speeches, publications and engagement;
  • how to disseminate the work that some landlords have been doing around affordability;
  • the links between affordability and homelessness and the related HARSAG recommendations;
  • opportunities for landlords to reduce costs through service delivery online or to demonstrate value added cost options;
  • potential feedback from tenants, landlords and other stakeholders depending on the approach SHR takes; and
  • feedback from SHR’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users on affordability.

The Board noted that IB will bring forward the risk assessment methodology for approval in November 2020.  It welcomed the opportunity for a discussion during the development phase and asked him and HS to take account of its feedback as they finalise the methodology.  

Action: IB/HS to take account of the Board feedback as they finalise the risk assessment methodology

 

Effectiveness of meeting and papers

The Board agreed to continue with video-conference based meetings.  NH provided feedback on her experience observing the Board meeting.  

Agenda planner, meeting dates 2021 and DONM

The Board will next meet on 3 November 2020. It noted that provisional date proposals for meeting in April, July and September 2021 will follow. 

AOB

There were not items of AOB.

Private session

The Board held a private session with the Chief Executive.

Post meeting notes

Between 6 October and 3 November the Board was briefed on:

  • updates to engagement plans and an inquiry report;
  • findings from SHR’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users;
  • the National Report on the Scottish Social Housing Charter; and
  • an update to advisory guidance for RSL governing bodies.