Editorial: Regulating the Regulator
Today we take the unusual step of publishing an editorial on Scottish Housing News. We do so for the sake of clarity as we publish a story revealing that a complaint alleging bullying by the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) has been made to the First Minister.
This complaint is unrelated to earlier stories we have run and we wish to make it clear that we are not running ‘a campaign’ targeting the SHR.
The SHR plays a vital role to play in ensuring that tenants are properly served by their social landlords and that standards are maintained and developed. There will always be a need for strict regulation, especially as associations age, grow and become more complex. And those subject to intervention will often feel disgruntled. It is a normal human reaction and, to be fair, the SHR is not in the business of winning popularity contests with housing staff — nor should it be.
We are not questioning the wisdom or efficacy of any SHR decisions in any interventions, statutory or otherwise, past or present.
But we are hearing more and more complaints from experienced sector figures expressing concern about the behaviour of the SHR, not just in statutory interventions but, significantly, also in non-statutory interventions. And there is one common theme: bullying.
The allegations are that the style of work employed by the SHR is aggressive, over-the-top and frightening.
Obviously, we have never witnessed such behaviour. But we can attest to the fact that an unprecedented atmosphere of fear surrounds the activities of the Regulator. That cannot be right.
This fear may be unfounded in which case the SHR should reassure RSLs.
But there is no question that the fear does exist and, if a damaging ‘them versus us’ mentality has developed within the ranks of the SHR, then questions must be asked about the effectiveness of the regulation of the Regulator.