SFHA AGM hears how social housing protects against poverty

SFHA AGM hears how social housing protects against poverty

SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas

The social housing sector provides one of the most important protections from poverty in Scotland, attendees at the 47th AGM of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) heard this week as its members reflected on the successes and challenges of 2021/22.

Members also heard how, during the past year, the organisation successfully influenced Scottish Government decisions to review the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing Two, increased grant benchmark levels and provided funding for tenants in arrears due to Covid.

With the cost of living crisis continuing to deepen, the AGM discussed the social housing sector’s vital part in providing support to its tenants throughout it. Chris Birt, associate director for Scotland at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was this year’s guest speaker, and he reflected on the critical role of social housing in keeping poverty lower than elsewhere in the UK and on what more must be done to help those who are struggling with the worst effects of the current crisis.

Other achievements for SFHA during 2021/22 included:

  • SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas representing the sector at COP26, highlighting how SFHA members were already leading the way on decarbonising homes without increasing costs for tenants
  • releasing new, and updated, guidance on treasury management and governance to help members carry out their roles
  • the return of SFHA’s in-person conference programme, which saw its Finance Conference attended by over 200 delegates, 100% of whom said it had fulfilled their reason for attending the event
  • administering and distributing over £4 million of funding to members for homelessness, fuel poverty and active travel initiatives
  • running SFHA’s Routes to Housing campaign which positions the social housing sector as a career of choice.

Sally Thomas, SFHA chief executive, said: “Despite continuing to navigate the effects of the pandemic during 2021/22, and supporting our members through it, SFHA positively influenced key government decisions related to energy efficiency, housing investment and funding for tenants. We welcomed more new members who recognised the benefits of our collective strength, and we also saw the return of our in-person conference programme.

“However, the challenges are far from over as we are now facing a deep and sustained cost of living crisis, as well as the likely unintended consequences of the Scottish Government’s proposed rent freeze. Housing associations and co-operatives are working tirelessly to support their tenants and communities, and, in the months ahead, SFHA will do everything in its power to ensure you can continue to do this work and provide the safe, warm, energy efficient affordable homes that Scotland desperately needs.”

SFHA’s AGM also saw the results of its board election announced.

Martin Wilkie-McFarlane of Wellhouse Housing Association was re-elected to the board representing the city of Glasgow constituency. Fin Smith of Clyde Valley Housing Association, Freya Lees of Kingdom Housing Association and Caron Quinn of Melville Housing Associations will join the board representing other urban areas. Dena McLeod of Hebridean Housing Partnership was re-elected to represent rural and island areas.

Ranald Brown of Wheatley Group and Helen Forsyth have been re-appointed as co-optees for another year. Helen Forsyth will serve as chair for another year, and Douglas Mackie remains as vice-chair. All of SFHA’s board directors can be viewed on its website.

The board election for the period 2021/22 has been conducted in accordance with SFHA’s Articles of Association and Election Policy.

SFHA’s Annual Report is available here.

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