SFHA and GWSF publish new openness and transparency guidance

David Bookbinder
David Bookbinder

New guidance has been issued to help housing associations make the right amount of information available both to tenants and other stakeholders.

Produced jointly by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF), the guidance aims to create a consistent approach across the sector and suggests that all associations should publish certain key items of information across a small number of main headings such as ‘How decisions are made’.

The publication comes days after the Scottish Housing Regulator highlighted the importance of social landlords being open and accessible about their services and decision-making.

Both SFHA and GWSF believe that the amount and quality of information made available by many associations is very good, and the advisory guidance recognises the diverse nature of the sector in Scotland in terms of size of association, and seeks to promote a proportionate approach.

David Bookbinder of GWSF said: “It’s encouraging to note from Charter results that housing associations score very well on how informed tenants feel about their landlord. We know this isn’t an area where we’d expect a completely uniform approach but there are some key issues on which we believe any association would want to make information available. The focus group of members that we brought together to advise us on this work supported this approach.

“We’re also promoting an approach which broadens things out to include those who aren’t direct customers of housing associations but may have a legitimate interest in their activities.”

Alan Stokes
Alan Stokes

Alan Stokes of SFHA added: “In the course of preparing the guidance, on top of consultation with our members we had very helpful discussions with the Scottish Information Commissioner and with the Scottish Housing Regulator, whose thematic report on openness was published earlier this week.

“Apart from demonstrating a culture of openness and transparency, we think that by proactively publishing the level of information suggested in the guidance, associations will find it much easier to deal with requests they may receive from time to time, whether these be ad hoc requests or those made under current legislative provisions (the Environmental Information Regulations).”

Open All Hours – A Model Publication Framework for Housing Associations and Co-operatives was produced by consultant Linda Ewart. The guidance has been sent to all SFHA and GWSF members.

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