New RSL finance analysis ‘reinforces importance of value for money agenda’

HouseMark ScotlandHouseMark Scotland, the provider of social housing data and insight in the housing sector, has responded to newly published analysis from the Scottish Housing Regulator regarding the finances of registered social landlords in Scotland.

Released last week, the analysis shows the finances of Scottish RSLs to be in good health. But the Scottish Housing Regulator has also raised concerns about plans by most RSLs to increase rents at rates above inflation over the next five years. It is concerned about the potential impact of these planned rent increases on affordability for tenants.

HouseMark Scotland argues that an important means of keeping rents affordable for tenants is for registered social landlords to focus even greater effort on measuring and improving value for money within their organisations.

In June 2015, along with the Chartered Institute of Housing and Wheatley Group, HouseMark Scotland published the first thought leadership research on defining, managing and demonstrating value for money in the Scottish housing sector. The research has been positively received within the sector and is being used by many organisations to inform their own debates on value for money.

Commenting on the Scottish Housing Regulator’s new analysis, head of HouseMark Scotland, Kirsty Wells, said: “The Scottish Housing Regulator clearly has concerns about the impact of planned rent rises on affordability for tenants over the coming years. Keeping rents affordable is one very good reason for registered social landlords to be doing more to make sure they are proactively managing value for money within their organisations.

“By embracing the value for money agenda and by entering into a mature dialogue with their tenants about service levels, service costs and rent affordability, it should be possible for many more registered social landlords to reassess their planned rent increases going forward.

“They can do this by using cost and resource benchmarking to provide them with the data and insight required to really get to grips with understanding the cost drivers within their businesses.”

Dumfries-based Loreburn Housing Association joined HouseMark Scotland in 2015 and has been using benchmarking data to assess its own performance on value for money.

CEO Lorraine Usher said: “Loreburn joined HouseMark Scotland in May 2015 and our benchmarking outputs have enabled us to take a closer look at value for money. Keeping rents affordable is always a priority and the data comparison information coupled with feedback from customers made us increasingly aware that future rent increases require careful management.

“During business planning for 2016/17 we agreed a rent freeze for our customers and in the course of the year will implement a programme of detailed cost analysis and service reviews to identify areas of our business where productivity and efficiency can be improved to deliver savings. Data analysis, continuous improvement and learning from others will become strong components in our refreshed approach and will help us shape future business decisions.”

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