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Legislation to reverse ONS reclassification due in September 2017

The Housing (Amendment) Bill 2017 will be introduced in September 2017.

In a letter to the Local Government and Communities Committee on 25 May, Minister for Housing and Communities Kevin Stewart MSP, confirmed that September is the timetable Scottish Government ia working to in order to finalise the legislation  to reverse ONS reclassification and introduce this to Parliament.

Mr Stewart said:

"Whilst ONS can only make a formal decision on reclassification on the basis of legislation that has been enacted and broughtinto force, it indicated - subject to various points of detail being resolved - that the measures we have in mind were likely to lead it to reclassify RSLs back to the private sector."

Although details of the measures contained in the legislation are not yet public, it will involve adjustments to the Scottish Housing Regulator's powers and limitations on local authority control over constitutional arrangements within RSLs - such as local authorities appointing RSL governing body members.

The ONS reclassified housing associations as "public non financial corporations" in September 2016.   If not reversed, this would mean RSL assets and liabilities being a part of the Scottish Government's accounts, and potentially Scottish Government controls over any future RSL borrowing.  

SFHA has been liaising closely with Scottish Government to ensure that the ONS decision is reversed, and look forward to being able to share with members more details about the proposed content of the Bill.