Registered Social Landlords

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 22nd January 2004.

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Photo of Elaine Murray Elaine Murray Labour 2:30 pm, 22nd January 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive how, and to what extent, it monitors the actions of registered social landlords, in particular those who have received former council housing under stock transfer. (S2O-1140)

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Registered social landlords are regulated on behalf of ministers by Communities Scotland within a regulatory framework that puts tenants' interests at its heart. New RSLs receive particular support in the 18 months after stock transfer to ensure that they are on track to meet their commitments to tenants.

Photo of Elaine Murray Elaine Murray Labour

I know that the minister is aware of problems that have been faced by Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership in the first months of its existence. Will she advise members what recourse tenants of RSLs have if they are unhappy with the actions of the board of a housing association? Do ministers have any powers of direction regarding the activities of RSLs?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

RSL boards are accountable to their members and tenants and responsible for decisions about the RSL. Tenants can become members of the RSL and seek membership of the boards themselves or vote for other members whom they wish to see on the board. The Scottish ministers' regulatory powers are delegated to Communities Scotland to regulate and inspect RSLs. Therefore, RSLs are independent organisations but are expected to work within a robust regulatory framework of standards and guidance.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Conservative

Does the minister share my disappointment and that of others who promoted the setting up of Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership that it has become so mired in controversy during its first six months? Will she reconsider whether there is any possibility of holding an independent inquiry into its activities so that a line can be drawn under its first few months and it can move forward with the important task of improving the housing stock in Dumfries and Galloway?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I have corresponded with Elaine Murray and David Mundell about the housing partnership's circumstances. I assure them and other members that the proper regulatory framework has been adhered to. We have given great consideration to the matter to ensure that all mechanisms have been properly addressed. I say to David Mundell that the best way in which we can now support Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership is to focus not on controversy but on housing investment and improvements that will meet tenants' needs in that area.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour

Does the minister agree that the task of registered social landlords is not just to manage, maintain and improve housing, but to participate in the regeneration of wider access activity, which is so essential, particularly in deprived areas of Scotland?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

That is a crucial part of RSLs' activities and one of the reasons why there have been such successful transfers in Scotland. One of the reasons why I doubled their regeneration budget last year is because we see that as a significant part of their activity. RSLs recognise the commitment of the Scottish Executive to understanding that housing plays a critical role in wider regeneration. We need to maximise the opportunities that we can produce from such substantial investment and we are on course to do so.