Report: Future tenants should be part of value for money considerations
Social landlords in Scotland should consider future tenants when analysing the value for money of what they do, according to a new report.
How do you know if you are providing value for money? is being launched today by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland, Wheatley Group and HouseMark Scotland at Housing 2015, CIH’s annual conference in Manchester. A further launch event will take place on Friday 26 June at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.
The report aims to get the sector thinking about what value for money (VFM) should look like in Scotland and provide social landlords with practical guidance on how to define, manage and demonstrate it.
Based on research including a round table session, a sector sounding board, survey and interview work, it recommends that:
- The Scottish social housing sector develops its own VFM strategy, which expands the focus of VFM to include tenants, future tenants and local communities
- The Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) should broaden its VFM focus in a similar manner
- Instead of requiring more data to be collected for the Annual Return on the Charter (ARC), the SHR should encourage social landlords to voluntarily collect data to evidence how they are providing VFM.
The report also encourages tenants to be ‘demanding and determined’ in securing transparency on value for money and landlords to focus on communicating as well as achieving it. Landlords need to make the relationship between service costs and service levels clear so that tenants can ‘follow the money’ and understand what is driving the rent and whether value for money is being achieved.
CIH Scotland, Wheatley and HouseMark Scotland said value for money will mean different things for different landlords, adding that organisations should be able to select from and adapt its recommendations.
Annie Mauger, director of CIH’s national business units, said: “Value for money is about doing the right things and doing those things right in the pursuit of social objectives. This is reflected in the expectations set out by the Scottish Housing Regulator, which focus quite rightly on rent affordability and what tenants get for their money.
“But there is a significant opportunity for social landlords to work with their tenants and other partners to define what value for money means locally in practice – we hope this report will help organisations realise this opportunity. Our research indicates that the sector has not only ‘got the value for money message’ but is capable of developing its own ‘bottom up’ approach which means there is no need for a significant increase in the regulatory burden.”
Wheatley Group’s Hazel Young said: “Given the current economic climate, and the hardships faced by so many of our tenants, it has never been more important for social landlords to deliver value for money. Tenants, both existing and future, are at the heart of this and we hope this research will spark debate and discussion in the sector about how we can best make sure we provide real value for money for our customers and communities.”
HouseMark Scotland’s Kirsty Wells added: “The report is a combination of thought leadership and practical advice. It demonstrates that VFM needs to be considered through a multi-stakeholder perspective, albeit with tenants at the heart of the strategy. It stresses the importance of local discussions on VFM, honest and transparent reporting of VFM outcomes and the need for all providers, large or small, to plan effectively if they are to meet the varying expectations of tenants, future tenants and communities.”