George Walker (GW) SHR Chair
Andrew Watson (AW) SHR Deputy Chair
Marieke Dwarshuis (MD) SHR Board member
Lindsay Paterson (LP) SHR Board member
Colin Stewart (CS) SHR Board member
Helen Trouten Torres (HTT) SHR Board member
Michael Cameron (MC) SHR Chief Executive
Helen Shaw (HS) SHR Director of Regulation
Iain Muirhead (IM) SHR Director of Digital & Business Support
Nicola Harcus (NH) SHR Assistant Director
John Jellema (JJ) SHR Assistant Director
Shaun Keenan (SK) SHR Assistant Director
Margaret Sharkey SHR Assistant Director.
Roisin Harris (RH) SHR Corporate Governance Manager
In attendance for items 1 & 2
Paul McLennan Minister for Housing with his Private Secretary
Emily Foster Assistant Private Secretary for the Minister for Housing
Janine Kellet Scottish Government Head of Homelessness Team
Michael Boal Scottish Government Social Housing Charter & Regulation Manager
Welcome & apologies
GW welcomed the Minister and his colleagues as well as all present.
Discussion with the Minister for Housing
SHR Board met with the Minister for Housing. GW and MC set out SHR’s ongoing work priorities and highlighted:
- work to collect data on RAAC; and
- an intention to update SHR’s homelessness thematic reflecting intelligence gained via Scottish Government collected statistics, Annual Assurance Statements submitted to SHR and regulatory engagement, noting that some are calling the situation a housing emergency. They explained the update will set out that there is systemic failure in some local authorities and that is beyond the remit of current regulation and needs a systemic response.
The Board and the Minister discussed:
- potential for system improvements, such as void turnaround, noting work Scottish Government is planning on related guidance;
- limitations of borrowing and work that the Minister is seeking to do around attracting new investment and funding into housing in Scotland;
- the impact on homelessness services in Scotland, particularly in Glasgow, of asylum seekers who are granted refugee status. And SG’s and some councils’ ongoing discussions with Westminster Government;
- system contributions and the role of acquisitions and allocations; and
- the policy collaboration approach to homelessness taken by the Ministerial Oversight Group.
HS and SK set out emerging findings from SHR’s analysis of RSL Five Year Financial Projections. They highlighted the continued and competing pressure on resources. They reported that landlords will have to make some difficult decisions and that projections are indicating that RSLs are planning to develop fewer homes over the next five years. HS also highlighted that RSLs are planning to cut back or delay investment in their existing homes and a range of activities which benefit their tenants and communities.
The Minister updated the Board on his work including:
- regular engagement with landlords and representative groups on cost controls and local solutions;
- work on a Rural Housing Action Plan;
- sector capacity discussions;
- work with existing and potential lenders and investors, noting SHR’s engagement and the value they place on regulation;
- discussions around the Local Authority Housing Revenue Accounts;
- the economic contribution building new homes makes;
- rent controls, the mid-market rent issue and the clarity that legislation will bring for investors; and
- work to clarify policy on retrofit and heat in buildings.
The Minister welcomed the opportunity to have discussions with SHR’s Board. The Board thanked the Minister and his team for their time and the opportunity to set out the key challenges. GW confirmed that SHR will update its homelessness thematic in early December ahead of a meeting with the Local Government, Planning and Housing Committee and that he would confirm this in writing with the Minister.
Action: GW to write to the Minister confirming SHR’s plans to publish an update to the homelessness thematic.
Apologies & Declarations
The Board noted apologies from Board members Siobhan White (SW), Ewan Fraser (EF), and also from Robert Laley (RL), SHR Assistant Director Digital. There were no declarations of interest.
Mid-Year Budget Review
SK set out proposals for SHR’s mid-year budget review. He explained that the underspend at 30 September 2023 is due to recruitment delays and savings in accommodation and BI revenue costs. SK detailed proposals to return £130K revenue and £400K capital to the Scottish Government at this point in the year for redistribution. He explained that Scottish Government would very much welcome the return of funds and that SHR would set out in the reasons for an underspend. SK also highlighted some forecasted overspend budget headings around overtime, travel and subsistence, venue hire and how these have been accommodated for in the mid-year review proposals.
The Board welcomed the report and discussed:
- recruitment, noting delays and the mixed experience of recruiting managers. It also noted that onboarding tended to be longer for external candidates and that some internal promotion within SHR had led to further vacancies for it to fill; and
- capital savings, noting the £400K allocation was in relation to the fit out of a planned office move that is no longer proceeding and that alternative options being explored will not require capital investment. It noted SHR has set aside some revenue funding for this future move.
The Board thanked SL for the comprehensive paper. It noted SHR expenditure in the year to date against original revenue and capital budgets and current forecast year end outturn. The Board approved the re-stated revenue budget for 2023/24; and proposed return of funds to Scottish Government.
Action: SK to arrange for return of funding to the Scottish Government and set out in detail why SHR is able to do this.
Mid-Year Operating Plan
MC presented a mid-year review of SHR’s operating plan, highlighted the benefits of recruitment, which has allowed SHR to remain agile and pick up on new activity such as the RAAC data collection. He emphasised the importance of continued agility to ensure SHR’s work remains relevant and that it will continue to adjust work plans accordingly. MC also highlighted the new work tasks that SHR has taken on since April 2023. The Board considered the review and discussed presentation of work tasks against strategic priorities. It noted that there will be discussion time on strategic priorities later in the workshop.
The Board noted and approved the mid-year review of the operating plan and thanked MC for the update.
Strategy & Risk Management
The Board and management Team held a workshop to discuss development of SHR’s future strategy and also a forthcoming review of its Risk Management Strategy.
The Board met with the Management Team in private.
The Board will next meet on 12 December 2023.