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SBHA shares successful governance review

Recently completed two-year review

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Scottish Borders Housing Association’s (SBHA) Chair and Vice-Chair, Simon Mountford and Michael Grieve, presented the association’s recently completed governance review to the SFHA Chair’s Conference on 27 January. SBHA has recently held its first governance meeting cycle under its new rules and framework, following a two-year root and branch review. The main changes include a move to a skills-based governing body and the establishment of a new Customer Board, which focuses on a seamless customer experience.

Julia Mulloy, SBHA Chief Executive, said:

“As we grow, we need to be confident that we can retain and attract the right skills to ensure great governance. Building on our strengths and commitment over the years, we have succeeded in attracting board members from a range of backgrounds, bringing with them a variety of experiences and skill. 

“These changes will build on this strong base to enhance our skills base for the future. Overall, the proposed changes will enable us to be more versatile and responsive to new opportunities and challenges.”

In summer 2016, a working group comprised of board members, senior staff and a representative from Scottish Borders Council, began a review of SBHA’s current governance arrangements moving away from the traditional LSVT constituency model which comprised of tenant, independent and councillor groups. Under its new rules, the Board of Management has decreased in size from 15 to 12 members, eight of which will be elected by SBHA’s Shareholders and the remaining four will be appointed by the Board. This will ensure that the Board can properly succession plan for the future, and have the right skills in place to implement SBHA’s strategic objectives. In redesigning the Board, the important role that tenants have played in SBHA’s governance was also recognised, and so ensuring tenant participation going forward was a key consideration. As such, tenants will continue to make up one third of the Board of Management, as four of the elected positions will be reserved for tenant candidates. 

A key part of the governance changes has been the reconfiguration of the sub-committee structure, with the creation of a new Customer Board. This will oversee the entire customer journey provided by SBHA, reinforcing the position of the customer right at the heart of SBHA’s decision making. This mirrors the changes in SBHA’s structure and service provision, to break down the barriers between traditional ‘housing’ and ‘technical’ service areas to better represent the joined up experience that customers expect.

The number of governing body and sub-committee meetings has also been reduced, with agendas streamlined and delegations mapped and increased, particularly those which improve the customer experience from a governing body level to cascade throughout the business, ensuring the right decisions are made in the right places to achieve the best outcomes for customers.

SBHA was also supported throughout the governance review project by its solicitors, Harper Macleod. 

Engagement with tenants and SBHA’s key partners has played a central role in the review, with over 120 tenants attending a series of roadshows held by SBHA and the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) to consider the skills needed to become a board member through a fun Lego ‘Build a Board Member’ exercise. This was intended to help give people confidence in making informed decisions, when the time comes for shareholders to vote at elections onto the new skills-based Board, as well as generating wider interest in and understanding of the governance of SBHA.