The Hot House Blog

28
Aug

Governance is Hot

The Scottish Housing Regulator published their report Self-assessing against Regulatory Standards: A Thematic Inquiry’ this month.   The report establishes how many landlords have undertaken self-assessment against Regulatory Standards since 2012, highlights examples of positive practice and sets out principles for landlords on self-assessing against Regulatory Standards.  Key findings are that all 152 RSLs completed the SHR survey on self-assessment, but while 121 RSLs confirmed they had completed a self assessment, 31 (20%) had not.

The SHR reviewed 25 of the completed self-assessments, but found that less than half met the principles they have now laid down.  The principles for effective self-assessment against Regulatory Standards are:

  • Regular
  • Comprehensive
  • Inclusive
  • Based on Evidence
  • Objective
  • Focus on improvement
  • Report the outcomes

The SHR confirmed that they will:

  • Use the principles of effective self-assessment when they engage with RSLs about their achievement of Regulatory Standards;
  • Survey all RSLs again in 2018 to identify how many have self-assessed against Regulatory Standards;
  • Consider what the findings mean for how the SHR regulates as they develop proposals for their new Regulatory Framework during 2017 and 2018; and
  • Use the findings from this report to inform their regulatory activity and engagement, particularly their risk assessment of RSLs.

Clearly the SHR expects improvements in the number, and quality of governance self-assessments through the next survey of the sector in 2018.  In this light, some organisations will reflect on the degree to which their comprehensive self-assessment meets the principles, and necessary action to do so. Others will wish to expand the scope of their self-assessment to ensure it is comprehensive and meets the principles. For a sizeable minority – one fifth of RSLs – who have not completed a self-assessment in the last five years, they may now be planning to undertake a comprehensive exercise that meets the higher standards set by the SHR through this thematic inquiry.

The SHR confirmed in their report that of the 121 RSLs who had completed a self-assessment, 50 had done so in-house and 71 had used external consultants to obtain independent assurance.  Should you require support in undertaking any self- assessment, Indigo House has a team of governance and subject experts with wide experience of conducting comprehensive governance reviews, developing robust implementation plans and assisting where needed on the delivery of priority actions.   Please do not hesitate to contact us for an informal chat about your governance assessment and improvement plans and how best to achieve them. For further discussion please contact Karen Anderson – karen@indigohousegroup.com.

23
Jun

SFHA Guide on Rent Setting and Affordability Assessment

The Indigo House team is delighted to have advised the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) in its Rent Setting and Affordability Guide. The Guide has been a joint enterprise between Mandy Littlewood, Anna Evans and Andrea Paterson of Indigo House, with SFHA colleagues.  The Guide was launched on 21st June, when Mandy and Anna presented to guide to a full house of SFHA members, and other interested landlords.

The Guide has been designed to be a practical tool to help housing associations and co-operatives make practical decisions on all aspects of rent policy, rent structures, rent setting and affordability in a way that embraces good value for money principles for both the landlord and their tenants.  It can be used by governing body members; senior members of staff; and all staff involved in the rent setting process.

The Rent Setting Guide is structured around the rent setting process, to take readers through this step-by-step. It includes a rent-setting checklist and activities to allow members to test their organisations.  The Guide also provides useful information to help readers understand the current legislation and economic context to rent setting in Scotland and the wider UK.

The Guide also provides members with an affordability tool, which is the culmination of the analysis and consultation work that Mandy did for SFHA on Rethinking Affordability. The affordability tool provides housing associations and co-operatives across Scotland with a simple way of comparing their rents for different sizes of property with moderate incomes for different household types.

The Rent Setting Guide also provides the reader with an update on current thinking around Value for Money (VFM) across the sector. The significant challenges facing social landlords in Scotland is likely to mean that we have to get better at measuring and at forecasting. We need to be more innovative in how we assess value and we need to get better at articulating what results we are getting with tenants and sometimes taxpayer’s money. VFM will help us to do that.

09
Apr

Brexit – what do RSLs in Scotland think?

SFHA survey finds 70% of respondents think Brexit will decrease capacity of construction workforce to deliver new homes

A new report on the potential impact of leaving the European Union on Scottish housing associations and co-operatives has found that 80% of respondents foresee a possible negative impact.

The key areas of concern highlighted in the report, The Potential Impact of Brexit on Housing Associations in Scotland, released by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), are the ongoing uncertainty; impact of uncertainty on financial markets and impact on private finance; and the possible impact on construction and workforce supply chain and costs. 

However, the report also found some organisations are more pragmatic and see some balance between the risks and opportunities of Brexit.

SFHA members prioritised their key areas of concern as follows:

  1. Capacity of the construction industry to deliver new social housing developments
  2. Financial investments via European funds for social housing
  3. Equally weighted were: workforce capacity for service delivery and private sector investment in social housing
  4. Potential changes in regulation and procurement
  5. Demand for social housing and future developments

Nearly 70% of respondents think Brexit will decrease the capacity of the construction workforce to deliver on new social housing developments and over 80% believe it will impact on the supply chain of trade and building materials through increasing costs in general – inflation and exchange rates – and in building materials and components in particular.

However, some members said they thought opportunities could arise from leaving the EU regarding developing a greater supply of Scottish and British construction trades and workforce.

While the majority of respondents said they have not experienced any change in attitude from potential private finance providers or investors since the referendum, there are examples of uncertainty and concerns in future growth and development plans due to current discussions with lenders.

Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of the SFHA, said:

“The capacity of the construction industry to deliver new social housing is paramount at a time when 50,000 affordable homes are to be delivered within five years. It is therefore a huge concern that almost 70% of respondents to our survey think Brexit will decrease capacity of the construction workforce.

“While there is little optimism about the challenges ahead, there is a recognition that it may prompt better training and employability opportunities. However, to exploit those effectively, and minimise disruption, we need to start acting now. I have already written to Scottish Ministers to encourage them to create a significant number of apprenticeships in order to safeguard the future of the housebuilding sector in Scotland.

“Access to funding and investment is also an area of huge concern for the social housing sector, and we will be seeking clarity on the situation as negotiations progress.”

The work was undertaken by researchers at Anna Evans Housing Consultancy, a founding member of Indigo House Group.

17
Mar

New research on Mid Market Rent

New research by Anna Evans Housing Consultancy, now a Member of Indigo House Group on mid-market rent (MMR) has found high satisfaction levels among tenants living in the properties but there is still limited awareness among many people about what mid-market rent is, the potential benefits it offers ….
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30
Jan

The power of data visualisation

Take a look at Indigo’s interactive map on the new SIMD 2016 results – click here SIMD2016

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