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SFHA comments on Scottish Government Freedom of Information consultation

The SFHA has responded to the Scottish Government launching a consultation proposing the extension of Freedom of Information legislation to RSLs in Scotland.

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For immediate use: Thursday 1 December 2016 

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation proposing the extension of Freedom of Information legislation to RSLs in Scotland.

The consultation proposes extension under Section 5 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 which would designate housing associations as ‘public authorities’, purely for the purposes of the legislation. The consultation paper is very clear that any extension would have no impact on RSLs status as private bodies but states RSLs provide services of a public nature as providers of social housing.

The paper proposes extension to RSLs only – and not to their subsidiaries.  

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) will be analysing the paper further and will be in contact with its members shortly to gain views about potential extension and what this might mean for its members.

SFHA Chief Executive Mary Taylor said:

“We will, of course, be responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation that proposes extension of Freedom of Information to RSLs in Scotland and, in order to shape our response, we will be contacting our members to assess what this would potentially mean for them in practice. We represent a wide variety of organisations across the country – small, large, urban, rural, general and specialist – and we need to gauge how this proposal could affect our members in these different contexts.    

“It is important to note that housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland are already subject to regulation by the Scottish Housing Regulator, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (when charities), and the Care Inspectorate (when providing support/care services) and the Scottish Social Housing Charter places a duty on associations to provide tenants and service users with the information that they require. Our members are committed to openness and transparency.  

“SFHA was recently involved in the production of a model publication framework for housing associations in Scotland, highlighting the kinds of information that can be proactively made available – especially on websites. This guidance has been embraced by the sector and is a further illustration of the open culture that exists within Scottish RSLs.”

Ends

For further information, please contact Kirsten Walker on t: 0141 567 6221 m: 0788 788 8348 email: kwalker@sfha.co.uk

Visit our website at www.sfha.co.uk

Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/SFHA.HousingScotland

Twitter www.twitter.com/sfha_hq

NOTES:

  1. The deadline for consultation responses is Thursday 23 February, and the full consultation paper is available here: Extension of FOI Consultation
  2. The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) was established in 1975 and has around 120 members providing affordable housing and wider community services across Scotland, as well as a further 200 commercial associates. The SFHA is owned and governed by its members and exists to lead, represent and support the work of housing associations and co-operatives throughout Scotland www.sfha.co.uk
  3. The SFHA is the voice of the principal builders and managers of new affordable housing for rent in Scotland. Housing associations own and manage around 40% of the country’s affordable rented housing stock, over a quarter of a million homes across Scotland.
  4. Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.