The Regional Networks were established to enable tenants and residents to engage and work practically with the Scottish Government on development of national housing policy.
There are 4 Regional Networks which cover the whole of Scotland. Each Network covers a number of local authority areas, and their membership is drawn from representatives of Registered Tenants Organisations (RTOs) and recognised landlord Scrutiny groups.
The Scottish Government’s Tenant Priorities Team supports the Regional Networks. The team is led by Anne Cook OBE, and includes Susan McLellan, Carolynne Watson, Annabel Hoatson and Islay McLauchlan.
The Scottish Government’s commitment to bring about effective tenant participation in Scotland has its roots in the National Strategy for Tenant Participation, ‘Partners in Participation’, which was published in 1999. For the first time, this set out key principles for good tenant participation and committed tenants, social landlords and the Scottish Government to a programme of action to achieve high quality tenant participation and outcomes.
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 gave tenants of social landlords a statutory right to be consulted on housing and related matters that affect them. Landlords are required to put tenant participation strategies in place, which are developed in consultation with their tenants. The Act also introduces the concept of landlords’ registration of registered tenant organisations (RTOs). RTOs are required to be both accountable to, and representative of, their members. One of their key roles is to strengthen the involvement of organised tenants groups in matters of national policy.
At the time, there was no practical way for RTOs to engage directly with each other or with the Scottish Government on matters of national policy. Ministers gave a firm commitment to setting up this engagement by establishing and supporting the Tenant Priorities Team, with a specific remit to facilitate the development of an engagement structure at a national level.
The Tenant Priorities Team carried out a period of extensive national consultation (including a national tenants conference, workshops across Scotland and a survey of RTOs) on developing a national engagement structure, overseen by a working group made up of 17 RTO representatives. The findings were reported in March 2006, and introduced the concept of establishing networks of tenants, organised on a regional basis, to build partnerships between the Scottish Government and RTOs and to formally involve the tenant movement in Scotland in the development of national housing policy.
9 Regional Networks were set up in 2008, with elections and inaugural AGMs held the same year. The Regional Networks have subsequently become a very well established and highly regarded part of the Scottish social housing landscape.
Following a gradual decline in the number of RTOs in Scotland, the structure of 9 Regional Networks became increasingly difficult to sustain and after a full consultation with RTOs, a new structure for Regional Networks was introduced in November 2017, reducing the 9 Regional Networks to 4.
Although the number of RTOs in operation continues to decline, the role of landlord scrutiny groups is steadily progressing. The 2017 restructure widened eligibility for Regional Network committee membership to include members of scrutiny groups, reflecting the changing and evolving nature of tenant participation.
The Regional Networks are now very well established, and contribute to Scottish Government policy development in a range of ways.
Impact of COVID 19 – The impact of Covid-19 has meant that the Networks are no longer meeting face to face. However, we are embracing technology and have had virtual committee meetings via Skype and Zoom.
Regional Network committees
The Regional Network committees meet bi-monthly. Please use this websites navigation to find information about each of the Regional Network committees, including membership and office bearers, meeting dates, papers and minutes. Each Regional Network holds an Annual General Meeting (AGM), usually during May or June. Information about upcoming AGMs will be available on the Events page at least six weeks prior to the AGM taking place.
Scottish Housing Regulator Liaison
The Regional Networks have developed effective engagement and influence arrangements with the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR), and representatives from the Networks sit on the SHR Liaison group, which meets quarterly with SHR to raise issues of concern or interest and to foster communication and dialogue between SHR and tenants.
Chairs & Secretaries meetings
Besides their regular committee meetings, the Chairs and Secretaries of each Regional Network meet quarterly to discuss issues of national importance and to contribute to a range of Scottish Government policy areas. Recent areas of focus have included rent affordability and fire safety in hgh rise domestic buildings.
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
Representatives from the committees meet regularly with the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning to contribute views, ideas and suggestions and to set out areas of interest and concern on national housing policy issues.
The Regional Networks contribute to Scottish Government consultations on a regular basis.
Representatives from the Regional Networks also participate in a number of Scottish Government working groups, including the Joint Housing Policy Delivery group (JHPDG), the Housing and Social Security group, and the Age, Home and Community Advisory group and following the Grenfell tragedy, are also involved in Scottish Government’s work on strengthening fire safety in domestic buildings.
Legislation & Guidance
Regional Network representatives contribute to the development of legislation and guidance across relevant policy areas in a range of ways.
The Regional Networks contributed to the Housing (Scotland) Acts 2010 and 2014, including provision of written and oral evidence to the Infrastructure and Capital Investment committee, and also helped to develop the Scottish Social Housing Charter, which sets out the outcomes and standards all social landlords should aim to achieve when delivering their housing activities. Regional Network representatives’ influence resulted in local authorities and Registered Social Landlords being subject to the same regulatory approach for the first time.
The Regional Networks also have a keen interest in local authority finance, and have previously challenged the Scottish Government to produce more robust guidance regarding the operation of Local Authority Housing Revenue Accounts (HRA) to ensure local authorities manage their HRAs transparently to secure good value for tenants, as well as ensuring tenants are consulted about how HRA resources are used. This work resulted in the Scottish Government developing and issuing new, revised guidance on how local authorities manage their HRAs.
The Regional Networks work with a number of partners to deliver practical, meaningful outcomes.