Response 103090396

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About You

What is your name?

Name
Alastair MacGregor

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

Please select one item
(Required)
Individual
Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Organisation
Argyll Community Housing Association Limited

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 association believes that as a body which is in receipt of public funds, and provides services to many families and communities within Argyll and Bute and is committed to openness and transparency we believe there is a logic to extending Freedom of Information Legislation. We understand currently that the Glasgow Housing Association is covered by the legislation so it is illogical not to have consistency within the sector. As things stand, as an open and transparent organisation the association currently provides information on reasonable request, which would probably fall within the current scope of the legislation.

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.
The association believes that it is not unreasonable if registered social landlords are to be covered by the legal structures of freedom of information that they are allowed adequate time to put appropriate structures and systems in place. We believe that some organisations will be better placed than others to comply with the legislation from a resource perspective. Many registered social landlords are small organisations with limited staff resources and we believe that it is not unreasonable to allow them time to make the necessary organisational and financial requirements to comply with freedom of information requirements. We understand for example that in Argyll and Bute the local authority has two dedicated members of staff responding to freedom of information requests so the resource and organisational change for some organisations should not be underestimated. On the basis of the above, we believe that an introduction date of 1st April 2020 is not unreasonable.

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

Comments:
There is a genuine concern within the sector at the time when there is considerable pressure on value for money, that organisations will find it challenging in both cost and resource terms to comply with the legislation. based on the Scottish Governments own analysis of 7 hours of time and £231 per FOI inquiry, this will put pressure on organisations. there could be a scenario whereby in order to comply with the legislation an organisation would have to divert resources from its landlord services to meet its legal requirements. We do not think that this is an ideal situation for registered social landlords to be in. Registered social landlords also operate in an environment where they are monitored by the Scottish Housing Regulator, who`s primary term of reference is to act in the interests of tenants and service users. One could see a scenario where service to tenants and other service users could dip in order to allow a registered social landlord to comply with the legislation.

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
On the basis that registered social landlords are required to treat everyone equally under the law, and we believe that they do, we see no material change in impact.