Housing associations in Scotland are regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator, whose regulatory framework was introduced in April 2012 following the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010. The same Act introduced the Scottish Social Housing Charter, which has been in force (in terms of data collected by social landlords) from April 2013.
GWSF maintains close and constructive links with the Scottish Housing Regulator at Board and particularly staff level. Our aim in working with SHR is to seek to influence the practical implementation of regulation in such a way as to ensure we have a robust and credible system of regulation but which is also proportionate.
An ongoing subject of dialogue with SHR is over the system by which overall performance and risk are assessed annually (currently these assessments are announced at the end of March each year). GWSF was pleased that earlier in 2016 SHR agreed to address the differences in language which had previously been used to describe the respective Charter performance of councils and housing associations.
The Forum has also played a significant role in working with SHR to influence the content of guidance on particular aspects of the regulatory framework, such as how SHR engages with associations when serious problems or allegations arise.
In 2015 we produced guidance of our own to help board/committee members know what to expect and ask for when faced with intervention form SHR, particularly in cases where the senior officer may not be in a position to support and advise.
As at autumn 2016 a key topic of dialogue with SHR is the recent reclassification of housing associations as public bodies, and the regulatory changes likely to be needed to achieve an eventual reversal of that classification by the Office of National Statistics.
Governance has been a feature of most of the recent cases in which SHR has taken statutory action. Recently GWSF held an Open Meeting session on learning the lessons from troubled associations – see the notes from this session:
Scottish Social Housing Charter
Each year GWSF produces a report comparing the Charter results of its members against those of other associations and local authorities in Scotland. All of the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 reports have shown community controlled housing associations in GWSF’s membership to be performing better – on almost all key indicators – than other associations and councils. See the reports below:
In August 2016 GWSF responded to the Scottish Government’s Charter consultation. We said that the Charter had been a success story but that it wasn’t necessary to make significant changes to it at this relatively early stage.