Black’s Blog: Housing Champion Bill Banks calls for a new RSL governance and compliance organisation
Bill Banks is retiring as chief executive officer of Kingdom Group, but he still has plenty to say about Scottish housing, writes Jimmy Black.
I interviewed Bill Banks in Glenrothes for our Housing Champions series, featuring Kingdom’s achievements in areas like employability, zero carbon homes and new tenures such as mid-market rent. We also spoke about the current policy environment in Scottish housing, and Bill’s depth of knowledge and experience lends credibility to his views on a range of issues.
When I asked him about the future of the sector, Bill said he felt positive; but he does have some concerns about the risks associated with potential Scottish Government interventions such as rent controls. He believes these will impact on RSLs’ business plans and remove control associated with the well-tested consultation arrangements housing providers have developed with customers.
Bill also feels increased compliance and regulatory requirements will impact on RSLs in the future, particularly smaller housing associations, who need to demonstrate the same compliance arrangements as larger providers.
Whilst Bill appreciates that Kingdom has an excellent relationship with the Scottish Housing Regulator and the Scottish Government, he feels there is also a need for an RSL Governance and Compliance member organisation. Such a body could provide proactive peer support, with larger RSLs providing advice, mentoring and governance and compliance auditing services to smaller housing associations and peer organisations.
This arrangement could allow voluntary co-options of staff from larger associations to strengthen boards; temporary staff secondments to help develop improvement plans, and provide a supportive forum for open discussion. Bill believes that if this type of self-regulation arrangement were introduced, it might avoid the need for statutory intervention.
Organisations could demonstrate they comply with good practice, or have improvement plans or shared services arrangements already in place. SHN would be keen to hear reactions from readers about Bill’s proposal.
As the driving force behind the 2012 Housing Innovation Showcase, Bill also has opinions to share on the Scottish Government’s plan to make Passivhaus the standard for all new build Scottish houses. Read more in his Housing Champions profile.