Response 602940982

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About You

What is your name?

Name
Joan MacLellan

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

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(Required)
Individual
Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Organisation
Falkirk Council

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:
RSLs provide a broad range of functions which are of a public nature and include: • Local authorities are under a statutory obligation (s 31(2) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987) to provide accommodation for homeless households. Section 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 imposes a statutory duty on RSLs to comply with local authority requests for support for homeless households in most circumstances. In this respect, RSLs deliver functions derived and underpinned by statute. • Under section 11 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 RSLs are required to offer tenants Scottish Secure Tenancies as RSLs are landlords of social housing rather than private housing. • When setting rents, RSLs must comply with certain principles including affordability which includes consulting with tenants. This is rather than the rents being set by the market as in private tenancies. • Section 3 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010 applies to both local authority and RSLs. Both categories of landlord are accountable to the SHR in terms of those “housing activities” referenced in that section. For the purposes of statutory regulation by the SHR, there is recognition of parity in terms of those functions defined as “housing activities” between local authority landlords and RSLs. • RSLs receive considerable sums of public money. Grants are available to RSLs to acquire land or buildings and to build to contribute to meeting the Scottish Government’s affordable housing target. Given the extent of RSL public funding, there is a strong reason to take into account public funding in determining whether or not RSLs are undertaking functions 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
Ticked Yes
No
If not, you may wish to indicate what timescale you feel would be more appropriate and why.
A year seems reasonable to put measures in place to allow sufficient preparation time for RSLs.

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

Comments:
We recognise the costs associated with the administration of FOIs can be significant and these costs may not be easily absorbed by smaller RSLs but it will allow RSLs to be fully accountable and increases transparency.

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
All equality groups will benefit from the proposals as it will give them greater powers to obtain information. It will mean more openness and transparency in relation to the information available from RSLs. It means that tenants of RSLs will have the same rights to access information as LA tenants.