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Get Governance

SFHA members have access to a range of resources to help them maintain the highest standards of governance. These have been developed in conjunction with industry specialists and informed by our membership. Relevant regulatory bodies were also consulted as appropriate to ensure that the materials help organisations meet regulatory and legislative requirements. The resources provided include: template documentation; practical tools; written guidance; and forums to discuss current issues and share good practice with peers.

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The following governance resources are available in the artcle below:

If you have any queries relating to any of the resources highlighted, please contact Alan Stokes, Policy Lead astokes@sfha.co.uk

Governing body member annual review guidance (Feb 2021)

Since the introduction of a regulatory requirement in 2015, the practice of undertaking an annual programme of governing body member (GBM) reviews has become embedded in RSLs’ governance cycle. Although promoted by the Regulatory Framework, the value of undertaking an annual review programme has come to be recognised as an important element of the support provided to GBMs. It is a means of identifying training and development priorities, discussing aspirations and future intentions and reflecting on both individual contributions and the overall effectiveness of the RSL’s governance.

SFHA issued guidance on GBM annual review in 2015 which has subsequently been updated in 2021. The update takes account of the sector’s experience, providing practical advice and materials to aid in the process. It has also been updated to reflect the current regulatory and legislative environment. You can read more here or access the document below.

Click here to download the word version.

Governing body members' guide (Feb 2021)

This guidance provides a template that can be customised to suit individual RSLs in order to be provided to governing body members to help them in their role. It is especially useful for new governing body members and many organisations have used it to develop material for inclusion in their induction packs. 

This 2021 update includes an example of how the document has been used in practice and updates all material to reflect the current legislative and regulatory environment. You can read more here or access the document below.

Click here to download the word version.

Governing body succession planning and recruitment guidance (Feb 2021)

This practical guide outlines the key components of succession planning, and the key points an organisation should consider when developing its approach. It also outlines a possible process for recruiting governing body members, and what to consider when recruiting the Chair and other office bearers. ​At the conclusion of the document, useful templates are provided both for succession plans, and for training and development plans.   

This 2021 update includes further sector examples and reflects the current regulatory and legislative environment. You can read more here or access the document below.  

Click here to download the word version.

Internal audit guidance

When the SFHA originally published this guidance in 2018, changes to the regulatory framework around internal audit were still being considered. Since then, internal audit has become a compulsory requirement for all RSLs.

The 2021 update to the guidance emphasises the importance of having in place appropriate internal controls, irrespective of internal audit being mandatory. The right checks and balances are the only way to ensure that the governance of an organisation is sound and robust. You can read more here or access the document below.

Click here to download a word version

Model Code of Conduct for Governing Body Members and Accompanying Guidance (April 2021)

It is a regulatory requirement that RSLs must adopt an appropriate code of conduct that governing body members must sign up to and comply with. SFHA has developed a model that can be adapted for this purpose, which has been approved by the Scottish Housing Regulator as meeting its requirements.

The 2021 update to the model Code also provides a suite of accompanying guidance to aid implementation, including:

  • Accompanying guidance on each of the principles that can be issued to governing body members to sit alongside the Code
  • A revised protocol for dealing with a breach of the Code – outlining both an informal route and a formal route of investigation
  • Further guidance on how to use the protocol, including a template letter to inform a GBM of investigation and a template brief for the conduct of an investigation

You can read more here or access the document below.

Click here to download the word version.

Model Code of Conduct for Staff and Accompanying Guidance (April 2021)

It is a regulatory requirement that RSLs must have in place an appropriate Code of Conduct for staff. SFHA has developed a model that can be used by RSLs for this purpose, that has been approved by both the Scottish Housing Regulator and Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH). The model was updated in 2021, with the Code now sitting alongside some brief accompanying guidance to aid implementation. You can read more here or access the document below.

Click here to download the word version.

Model Entitlements, Payments and Benefits Policy and Guidance Notes (April 2021)

The Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) places a requirement on all RSLs to have in place a policy that sets out what payments and benefits it permits and to ensure that these arrangements demonstrate transparency, honesty and propriety. SFHA has developed a Model Entitlements, Payments and Benefits (EPB) policy that can be adopted by RSLs for this purpose. The Model has been approved by the SHR as meeting its requirements.

The policy covers the following topics:

  • Managing interests of those to whom the policy applies
  • People connected to those who those to whom the policy applies
  • Use of the RSLs contractors/suppliers by those to whom the policy applies.

The 2021 update to the model includes further accompanying guidance notes, as well as updating some of the definitions and thresholds contained in the documentation. You can read more here or access the document below.

Click here to download the word version.

Model Role Descriptions for Governing Body Members and Office Bearers (Feb 2021)

SFHA Model Role Descriptions for Governing body Members and Office Bearers are now available to all SFHA members. This collection contains four stand-alone documents that can be adapted by Scottish housing associations and co-operatives. You can read more here or access the document below.

Click here to download the word version.

Model Rules 2020

The SFHA Model Rules 2020 were developed following a comprehensive review process – which involved consultation with members, the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR), the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). SFHA commissioned TC Young to draft the necessary revisions to the previous (2015) version – with the model officially registered with the FCA. 

This model has been approved as meeting the SHR’s constitutional requirements – which must be met in order to declare compliance with regulatory standards. It is therefore the recommended model to use for RSLs seeking to make constitutional changes. More details are available here or you can access the model below.

Click here to download a word version

Supporting guidance to the Model Rules 2020

SFHA has also developed comprehensive suite of guidance to accompany the Model Rules in conjunction with TC Young. This includes:

  • a table offering guidance on specific clauses within the rules and space for SFHA to add more guidance as, and when, queries arise. 
  • a comprehensive guide to making rule amendments, incorporating the new online process adopted by the FCA and the revisions to the SHR requirements – i.e. the SHR now requires to be notified once the rules are adopted rather than giving prior consent. 
  • suggested clauses and guidance to different types of organisation – such as fully mutual co-operatives, community-based organisations and non-charitable organisations.
  • further optional amendments are offered for organisations that are seeking to make amendments:
    • to allow appointed committee members
    • regarding employees as committee members
    • regarding committee members who are related
    • regarding payment of committee members.
    • to allow virtual attendance at general meetings
  •  worked examples of electing committee members, rejecting a nomination, and appointing office bearers.  

More details can be found here or you can access the document below.

Click here to download a word version

Senior staff succession planning guidance (Feb 2021)

This document is provided to SFHA members as a helpful guide for staff and governing bodies to refer to when they are considering their succession planning for senior staff. It looks at understanding future intentions; considerations when the senior officer is leaving/will be absent; and managing in the interim should the unexpected happen. Whilst it is not a guide to business planning, it also touches on the links between succession planning and the business planning process.

The 2021 update to the document includes additional guidance on senior staff appraisal, further examples from within the sector and reflects the current regulatory and legislative environment. You can read more here or access the document below. 

Click here to download the word version.

Self-assurance toolkit

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) Self-assurance toolkit has been developed in conjunction with the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR), the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF) and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO). The toolkit is an ongoing project, forming a central hub of guidance for the sector – available not just to SFHA members but to all RSLs and local authorities.

The toolkit focusses on the types of question that governing bodies/committees should be asking themselves relating to regulatory requirements and standards, in order to gain the level of assurance required that compliance is being achieved. Equally, if not more importantly, it provides social landlords with guidance on gathering evidence to demonstrate this compliance – in order to feed into their existing self-assurance processes. The toolkit was updated in June 2021 after a consultation process with SFHA members. 

You can read more here or access the document below.  

Click here to access word version

Supplemental Covid-19 guidance to self-assurance toolkit (June 2021)

Further supplemental guidance to the Self-assurance toolkit is available, outlining a series of additional self-assurance factors members wish to consider as part of the 2021 process.  These are highlighted in the document as “Covid-19 flags.”  It is important to note that – as with the toolkit itself – these are not intended to be either prescriptive or to be used as a checklist, but rather a series of prompts to feed into existing processes as appropriate.  The document can be accessed below.

Click here to access word version

Suggested clauses for use in Annual Assurance Statements (June 2021)

The Regulatory Framework requires all Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to submit an Annual Assurance Statement (AAS) to the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) between April and October each year, with a deadline of 31 October. This guidance provides a range of sample clauses which members can amend and combine to form a statement that meets individual requirements and circumstances. 

The examples cover both compliance and non-compliance and some additional guidance on their use is included. Members may select whatever combination of clauses that meets their individual requirements and can adapt and amend as appropriate.  The document can be accessed below.


SFHA Governance Forums

SFHA members can join one of three Governance Forums:

  • Governance Staff Forum – for CEOs, senior staff and staff with specific governance roles within RSLs
  • Chairs Forum – for Chairs, Vice Chairs and aspiring Chairs of RSLs
  • Governing Body Members Forum – for committee and board members of RSLs

Initially, these forums will exist as an online space on Microsoft Teams for members to discuss current governance issues with peers, share good practice and receive updates from SFHA.  

If you, or one of your colleagues would like to be added to one of these teams groups, please contact Nicola Adams (nadams@sfha.co.uk).

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