Response 528889202

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About You

What is your name?

Name
Euan Anderson

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

Please select one item
(Required)
Individual
Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Organisation
North View Housing Association

Questions

1. Do you agree that freedom of information legislation should be extended to Registered Social Landlords, as proposed in this consultation paper?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

2. Freedom of Information can be extended to organisations that undertake ‘functions of a public nature’. You may wish to provide comments on how you consider that RSLs undertake functions of a public nature, for example, with reference to the factors referred to earlier in the consultation paper.

Please enter comments:
The provision of social rented houses and flats is a ‘function of a public nature’.

3. The proposed order would be expected to come into force on 1 April 2018. Do you consider this a reasonable timescale, allowing for preparation for inclusion?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
If not, you may wish to indicate what timescale you feel would be more appropriate and why.
No. The amount of preparatory work that RSLs will have to carry out to be compliant by the commencement date (of 1st April 2018) is so great that it renders the proposed timescale unreasonable. Local Authorities had 2.5 to 3 years lead in to their commencement date (of 2005), we hope that the Government will treat RSLs similarly. A commencement date of 1st April 2019 would be more realistic; that should give RSLs enough time to 1) update websites (to be compliant with the Scottish Information Commissioners requirements), 2) train staff and Management Committee Members on the Act, 3) get procedures and processes in place to ensure we comply with our new statutory requirements, and 4) install software (or develop a manual system) for the monitoring and tracking of FoI requests. The extension of the FoI will require the RSL sector to absorb a raft of legislation and guidance that it is not currently familiar with; ample time must be afforded to ensure a successful transition and give RSLs a realistic chance of being compliant by the commencement date.

4. We would welcome comments on the draft partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment provided at Annex A.

Comments:
If the FoI is extended to RSLs, we anticipate spending between £10,000 to £15,000 on ‘start up’ costs, and thereafter around £3,600 per annum (based on us receiving 12 FoI requests each year, and it costing us £300 to process each). The ‘start up’ cost will be significant; this includes training costs, costs associated with setting up new processes and procedures, the cost of updating our website, and the cost of establishing a system to record and monitor FoI requests (be that manual or digital). The Scottish Government estimate the cost to the SIC in extending the FoI to RSLs to be in the region of £110k in year one, and £100k thereafter. This cost will be met by the taxpayer, but the cost to RSLs will be met by their tenants' rents. We suggest that the Scottish Government contribute towards RSLs start up costs; in an arrangement similar to that that they implemented when the SST was introduced in 2003 (when each RSL received £10,000 towards the cost of implementation). A similar gesture in this instance would be greatly appreciated by the RSL sector.

5. We would welcome comments on how these proposals might impact on ‘Equality Groups’ i.e. in respect of age, gender, race, religion, disability, sexuality, children’s rights etc. Comments will inform the Equalities Impact Assessment and Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment to be completed following consultation.

Comments
We do not foresee the extension of the FoI having a negative impact on any Equality Groups.