Response 310908610

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About You

What is your name?

Name
Mr Graeme Russell

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

Please select one item
(Required)
Individual
Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Organisation
Manor Estates Housing Association Ltd

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
Yes
Ticked 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 Scottish RSL movement has a long and proud history of stakeholder engagement, transparency and openness. The Social Housing Charter which underpins our core activities has at its heart the provision of information and performance to our tenants and other customers. While RSLs are undoubtedly private sector organisations, managed ultimately by Management Committee's of volunteers, there is no doubt our functions are "public", the provision of affordable housing and the development and maintenance of sustainable communities. I would contend that there already exists adequate direct and indirect provision of information about individual organisations and that as a consequence of the unique nature of the RSL sector, the size and resources available to Housing Association's and Co - op's, that the expansion of FOI to the sector, will potentially place undue burdens and add additional costs to our work, costs which are ultimately borne by our tenants via rent payments

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.
Many RSL's, ours included, have already established their budgets for 2017/18, budgets which ultimately are reflected in the rental charges borne by tenants. In light of the likely logistical, IT development, staff training and policy / procedural development required to facilitate the introduction of FOI legislation, we would contend that RSL's will be ill equipped in the timescales suggested, to adequately and appropriately develop systems suited to the needs attached to FOI implementation. We would recommend that as a minimum and if required FOI implementation is deferred until 1st October 2018 or ideally 1st April 2019, allowing time, resources and provisions to be made allowing introduction.

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

Comments:
Noting the content and provisions of the 2 options provided, we would contend that as a result of the generally open and transparent approach adopted by RSL, our compliance requirements with the Social Housing Charter, in addition to the considerable amount of information available via the Scottish Housing Regulator, that legislative provision is unnecessary. In the event Option 2 is considered, we would contend that due consideration is taken of the information readily available from individual RSLs and from the SHR and that FOI access requests recognise the openness and transparency inherent within 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
None. The RSL sector as previously intimated is an open and transparent sector, information in respect of designated groups of individuals is already readily available.