The big VfM question arising from our survey is whether it’s time for a Scottish standard.
At present there isn’t one, although the SHR does have a focus on rent affordability and the outcomes and services tenants get, and monitors this through The Scottish Social Housing Charter. More regulatory paperwork is often unwelcome, so it’s perhaps surprising that nearly 50 per cent of our respondents in Scotland want more emphasis on the measuring and reporting of VfM in financial statements.
This may reflect the impact of coronavirus and the cost of living increases on tenants, and many RSLs may see this as an opportunity to set out clearly what they do, the difference they make and the value of their work to a range of stakeholders, including tenants.
Should a Scottish VfM standard come into being, our sense is that it will largely follow the template set by the model code of governance.
Do you believe more emphasis should be placed on measuring and/or reporting in financial statements on Value for Money?
Annual Assurance Statements
The Scottish Housing Regulator, unlike the Regulator of Social Housing, has the power to ‘intervene’ to safeguard the interests of social housing tenants and service users. It has used this power a number of times over the last five years to deal with a series of failures in the sector that mainly arose from governance issues.
Assurance is an important function of governance. The introduction of the Annual Assurance Statement in 2019 sought to help governing body members get the assurance they need about compliance with regulatory and statutory obligations. Behind the scenes, a lot of work goes into ensuring the board is ‘assured their organisation complies with regulatory requirements and standards or to disclose areas where they need to improve.’
That 10 per cent of our respondents say the assurance statement has ‘greatly improved’ their governance reinforces the impression that the assurance statements are serving their intended purpose: in fact, 61 per cent see no need for the implementation of an equivalent to England’s National Housing Federation Code of Governance.
All RSLs have now submitted three Annual Assurance Statements to SHR – do you think there has been an impact on your organisation’s governance?
A National Housing Federation Code of Governance has been in place for a number of years now to help housing providers in England achieve the highest standards of governance and board excellence – would you welcome a similar Code in Scotland?
Given the impact of coronavirus on tenants, do you think that the focus on value for money as a priority in your RSL will...?