Since SFHA's last blog update, there has been another meeting of the SHR's Working Group and a meeting of the SFHA Regulation Sounding Board. At both of these meetings, an update was provided by the SHR about the content of the forthcoming formal consultation.
The Local Government and Communities Committee of the Scottish parliament has approved the final Regulations necessary to enact the Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2018. The regulations now go before a plenary vote in Parliament on the evening of 18 September and, if approved (which is likely following the Committee's recommendation), the Minister will then sign the instrument immediately afterwards bringing the Act officially in force.
Scottish Government has now made regulations commencing the Housing (Amendment) Scotland Act 2018, and have also laid in the Scottish Parliament draft regulations, under section 9 of the Act, on local authority influence over RSLs.
The Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 6 July 2018. This legislation is intended to lead to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reversing its decision of September 2016 to reclassify RSLs as pubic non financial corporations.
SFHA has continued to press Scottish Government for a meeting to discuss its consultation response and accompanying annex to the draft order proposing extension of FOI to RSLs and subsidiaries. SFHA Head of Public Affairs Sarah Boyack has written to Minister for Parliamentary Business Joe FitzPatrick MSP.
At our Chairs’ Conference in January, we highlighted that we would be looking to put together an SFHA Chairs’ Forum. This group would act as a sounding board on all issues of interest and concern to Chairs for the mutual benefit of Chairs themselves and SFHA. Whilst most communication is likely to be electronic (depending on preferences), we will also bring together a meeting of the group, potentially 6 months or so after the annual Chairs’ Conference. We are aiming to have an initial meeting in the Autumn – depending on demand – in order to provide an extra opportunity for members to network and discuss key issues prior to the SFHA Chairs’ Conference in January.
The Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans has confirmed to SFHA that - whilst the intention of the Scottish Government is to proceed with extending Freedom of Information legislation to RSLs - due to continuing consideration of issues raised in consultation, including the timing of the order, the proposed commencement date of 1 April 2019 is no longer considered feasible in allowing sufficient time for RSLs to prepare for designation. A commencement date will be confirmed in Scottish Government's formal response to the consultation.