Letter to Tenants 20/04/2021
As you will be aware from previous updates, the Association has been engaging with the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) following our failure to submit the required Annual Assurance Statement to SHR on time during October 2019. When the Annual Assurance Statement was eventually sent, Committee indicated that we were not able to gain assurance that Faifley could demonstrate compliance with SHR’s Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management.
We then chose to start a full Governance and Financial Management review in early 2020. This confirmed the breadth and depth of issues at Faifley that need to be addressed. The review gave us a real sense of the amount of work that we would need to do to meet the standards required for all housing associations in Scotland.
As a small local housing association and charity, we are clear that the working environment and rules we need to operate within have become much more challenging over recent years and we have not been able to keep pace with the changes around us.
We have seen changes at Management Committee and senior officer level and have increased the support to Committee and staff to ensure tenant services are protected. With these changes, this has given us the opportunity to really challenge ourselves and think about the future of the organisation and what that needs to look like. We want to deliver the best for the tenants and factored owners that Faifley is here to serve.
To help us do this, we hired external consultants to carry out a strategic options appraisal. The following options were explored to test which could allow us to do more for you:
Staying independent and addressing the range of issues.
Staying independent but sharing/ buying services from another
Formally joining another housing association as its subsidiary.
Transferring our business into a larger housing association.
These 4 options were fully tested, and views were sought from tenants, staff, and key stakeholders. After detailed consideration and assessment, the recommendation that was agreed by every member of the Management Committee at our meeting on 30 March 2021 was to progress Option 4 – to seek a Transfer of Engagements to another larger housing association.
In reaching this decision, I would highlight that all Committee Members had the best interest of our current and future tenants at the forefront of our minds. We want to ensure that our long-term financial plans support investing and adding value to your homes. We also want to be able to provide good quality, modern services to you. We were confident that the decision to move forward with a transfer would allow us to do these things and will also lead to improved outcomes for tenants, while safeguarding the local, community focused, and personalised services that our customers and our staff team value.
We now have a lot of hard work ahead over the coming months to advertise for, and hopefully appoint a preferred transfer partner. Interest will be restricted to other registered housing associations as they are regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator. We will seek a strong, well performing partner with the capability to deliver what Faifley needs. We will make clear all the priorities that we want to address through a transfer taking account of the issues that tenants have told us matter to them most. From the recent consultation with you, early priorities that we have identified are:
✓ Keeping rents affordable.
✓ Investment in homes (kitchen, bathrooms etc.).
✓ Improving the environment (managing the area, fencing etc.).
✓ Modernising the service (better payment options, on-line services).
✓ Being more than just a good landlord (wider role services).
✓ Accessible local services.
The process to identify a partner will happen over the coming months. We will keep tenants fully informed on the outcome of this process and who we hopefully identify as our preferred partner.
Once we have done this initial stage, we will then need to develop a joint Business Case for the transfer with the successful partner. This needs to set out in detail what transfer would mean for you and the set of promises that the partner would deliver, if Faifley tenants support the transfer. During this process, we will be out talking to you to find out what you think and make sure any plans have been shaped by your views.
What we are planning is a big change and we will make sure that we take the time to do this right and that we have the support of tenants before we move ahead. We will also appoint an independent tenant adviser to provide advice to all tenants and help answer any questions you have through the process.
The final transfer offer will be the subject of an independent tenant ballot where every tenant would get to vote on whether the transfer goes ahead. Please be assured that a transfer would only happen if the majority of our tenants voting support it.
A couple of important points to note is that your tenancy rights are unaffected by this type of transfer. Our staff would also transfer with their current terms and conditions preserved.
We hope that this provides helpful information on why we have decided to progress a transfer with another housing association and what happens next. We will be issuing regular updates, but if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email us at email@example.com or contact our Interim Director, Catherine Lowe on 01389 877924.
With best wishes
Jackie Lorimer Chairperson