Charter a success but leave it as it is, says GWSF

David Bookbinder
David Bookbinder

The Scottish Social Housing Charter has largely been a success story and should not be subject to major changes, the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF) has said.

Responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation, GWSF said the Charter has had a positive impact on services and also on the transparency of information about how landlords are performing.

However the organisation added that changing the Charter at this relatively early stage would bring resource challenges for landlords and potentially greater difficulty for tenants and others in comparing data year on year.

GWSF director David Bookbinder said: “We know that the trigger for the consultation was the legal duty to review the Charter by April 2017 after it has been in operation for five years. But in many respects it still seems ‘early doors’ as so far we’ve had published data for just two years.

“Prior to the Charter, the standard of services to tenants provided by GWSF member associations was generally very high, as borne out by the previous returns made to the Regulator. The Charter has provided a helpful framework for our members to assess the potential for further improvement in the standard of services - something landlords will always strive for.

“The evidence from the second year of Charter data was that, perhaps not surprisingly, the most significant improvement was from landlords with the greatest scope to improve, and we expect to this trend continue when the third year’s data is published next week. This is something which arguably may not have happened in the same way or at the same pace without the impetus of the Charter’s introduction.

“And whilst many GWSF member associations provided a very good level of information to tenants about services prior to the Charter, there’s no doubt that across all sectors, the Charter has resulted in tenants getting clearer information about how their landlord is doing.

“We have a regular, helpful dialogue with the Regulator about how Charter outcomes are measured, but this consultation was about the outcomes themselves, not how compliance is assessed.

“In our response we’ve suggested a few modest changes to give greater recognition to the fact that some outcomes, such as anti social behaviour, environmental issues and adaptations provision, are not wholly within the gift of landlords alone to meet.

“But otherwise we think it’s a case of not trying to mend what isn’t broken.”

The consultation to help develop a Scottish Social Housing Charter for the next five years closed yesterday.

You can download a copy of the current Scottish Social Housing Charter here, while GWSF’s consultation response can be seen here.

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