The Office of National Statistics (ONS) announced its decision to reclassify housing associations as Public Non-Financial Corporations on 29 September 2016.
In October 2015, the ONS ruled that the housing regulator in England – the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) - demonstrated “control” over English housing associations and used this as the basis to reclassify them. The HCA powers referenced by the ONS in its decision are broadly similar to those of the Scottish Housing Regulator, so it was expected that the ONS would reach the similar conclusion in Scotland that it did. This means that HA assets and liabilities will go onto the Scottish Government books, possibly meaning that there could be an element of Government control over any future HA borrowing.
The Scottish Government has proposed legislative measures to reverse this decision - the Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill (see here). This will involve amendments to the powers of the Scottish Housing Regulator. It is expected that the legislation will receive royal assent in summer 2018, meaning that the earliest ONS could possibly reconsider its decision would be Autumn 2018 (although this could be later depending on its work programme).
The SFHA is in full support of the aims of this legilsation, and is liaising closely with the Scottish Government as the Bill progresses.