Letter to the Editor: Scottish Housing Regulator chair George Walker

Letter to the Editor: Scottish Housing Regulator chair George Walker

George Walker

I would like to address the matters raised in the recent Scottish Housing News coverage of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s work.

We do not tolerate bullying. We work to be an effective, open and transparent regulator. We have a clear and appropriate route for anyone who wishes to raise a concern or to complain to us about how we work, and they have the right to take it to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

We have one statutory objective, which is to safeguard and promote the interests of tenants, people who are homeless and others who use services from social landlords. This drives everything that we do.

Most of our engagements with landlords are straightforward, although some can involve challenging conversations for all involved. Since 2014 we have used our intervention powers in twelve landlords. We, of course, understand that intervention by a regulator can be difficult for any organisation and for its people, both staff and board members. We intervene proportionately and only where a landlord has significant problems that present a risk to tenants’ interests and is unwilling or unable to deal effectively with them.

It is important that we are transparent about, and accountable for, how we use our powers. That is why we publish a report on each intervention in a landlord after that intervention has ended. We have completed our intervention in nine of those landlords. In each case, the result is an organisation which is stronger and able to better serve its tenants and local communities.

We have an appeals process to give a route to challenge our most significant regulatory decisions. We publish a wide range of guidance and advice explaining how we regulate, including on whistleblowing. In addition, later this year we will publish further material on how we use our powers.

We launched our new Regulatory Framework almost a year ago, following an inclusive, year-long conversation with tenants, landlords, representative bodies, funders and others. The vast majority of people and organisations that responded supported the approach to regulation we proposed.

We engage regularly with stakeholders, including landlord membership organisations. Through this, we have ongoing, constructive discussions about our work, its impact and our relationships with the organisations we regulate.

We work to the highest of professional standards and we welcome feedback. We have a clear complaints process, which is set out on our website. I can assure anyone who may wish to raise a concern about how we work that they can feel confident in raising this directly with us through our complaints procedure.

It is difficult for us to respond to concerns raised indirectly or through the media. I can assure you as SHR chair that any complaints or concerns raised with SHR will be handled in a respectful and appropriate way as laid out in our complaints procedure.

Anyone can contact me directly if they have matters they wish to raise with me, at shr@shr.gov.scot.

We look forward to continuing to work openly and transparently to protect the interests of everyone who uses social landlords’ services.

Yours sincerely,

George Walker

Chair, Scottish Housing Regulator

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