The Committee of Management of WGHC is its board of directors. Unlike most social landlords, all WGHC’s committee members are tenants.
There are normally ten Committee meetings a year. This does not include sub-Committee meetings (like the Staffing or Audit sub-Committees) which are held as and when required.
WGHC’s new financial year started on 1st April 2019.
A summary of what has happened at Committee Meetings
This was a very busy Meeting and a longer summary than usual is given.
At the Committee Meeting 8th May, the Financial Performance Report for the year was presented in some detail to Committee. It was noted that the Management Accounts showed a surplus of £77k better than budget. There was £4k in additional income from Stage 3 Adaptation Funding– Committee were advised that the Stage 3 income will be netting off reactive repairs and presenting where it has to be in the statutory accounts.
In addition, there was an underspend of £27k on admin and management costs and just over £31k in maintenance; this will reduce to about £20k in the statutory accounts. Depreciation was less than budgeted for. The underspend affects the loan covenants- (WGHC’s ability to cover the interest payments). These are set at 110% by the loan provider, the Nationwide Building Society. WGHC’s actual interest cover is 310%. WGHC’s Balance Sheet/Statement of Financial Position is strong with healthy cash balances. Investments have gone down by half a million pounds but cash has increased by half million on the basis it is needed for the Area 1 windows and doors replacements.
In the year, WGHC repaid grant funding of £289k back to the City of Edinburgh Council. WGHC’s total investments are just under £2 million. WGHC’s financial position remains very healthy and this will be reflected in the Statutory accounts.
Committee were advised the Audit Plan had been approved by the Audit Sub-Committee and that the Audit fieldwork had commenced on 6th May 2019.
Research Resource presented the 2019 Tenant Satisfaction Survey Results. The overall satisfaction levels for WGHC are 98%, compared with the Scottish national average of 90%. A summary of the key results for WGHC are provided below in bullet points:
• Keeping WGHC Tenants’ informed: 100% satisfied (Scottish average 90%)
• WGHC Tenants’ satisfaction to being involved in the decision making process : 100% (Scottish average 86%)
• WGHC Tenants’ Satisfaction with repairs service and maintenance: 96% (Scottish average 93%)
• WGHC Tenants’ Satisfaction with quality of home: 97.5%
• WGHC Tenants’ Satisfaction with management of the neighbourhood: 99%
• WGHC Tenants’ Satisfaction with Value for Money: 100% – Research Resource advised Committee that this was exceptional as across the country, this indicator has fallen.
After the above presentations, Committee approved the Statistical Return for the Annual Report on the Charter. This is due to be submitted online to the Scottish Housing Regulator by 31st May 2019. Committee were advised that the Loan Portfolio Return and the Five Year Financial Projections would be submitted for their approval at the June Committee in time for their submission to the Regulator by 30th June 2019.
Committee were presented with the results of the Annual Health & Safety Audit Assessment. They noted there were no serious risks identified and a few minor actions were required including the renewal of the First Aid Kit, a Body Spills Kit and a COSHH Assessment form for a Sink Unblocker fluid. Committee were advised all actions would be completed by the June Committee Meeting.
Next, the fourth and final Operational Performance Report for the year was presented to Committee. WGHC’s continues to perform well and there were no concerns raised. In addition, Committee noted updated reports on Staffing, Housing Management and Maintenance works. Informal feedback back from WGHC tenants were reported, concerning Sidey (the contractor responsible for the window and doors replacements in Area 1) and all comments have been positive. A formal tenant satisfaction survey will take place on completion of the project and Committee will be informed of the results.
Committee approved the appointment of a Consultant for the 2019 Stock Condition Survey. Whilst the cost of the survey did not require formal Committee approval, it was recognised it would cost substantially more than the 2016 survey because a full, more detailed brief had been given to the consultants this time around and the CEO decided that Committee should be given the final decision to make given there would be a substantial difference in the cost. It was explained to Committee that high quality and accurate information was crucial to inform future asset management and component replacement decision making; which ultimately affects our finances. A qualified Building Surveyor will be carrying out the survey and the results will be uploaded into WGHC’s Planned Maintenance Management software. Letters will be sent out to tenants to make them aware of the survey works nearer the time.
Finally, Committee noted that the CEO had met up with Port of Leith HA to discuss the progress of their joint procurement of linked smoke alarms and electric testing through ARCHIE; that the CEO had met up with Hunters Hall Housing Co-op to progress their joint procurement of an internal auditor, and this will go live on the Public Contract Scotland website by 31st May; that the CEO will be attending a meeting with 9 other Scottish Housing Co-operatives at the end of May to discuss areas of mutual interest and how best the Co-operative Housing model can be promoted; and that the Pilton Youth & Children’s Project had sent their heartfelt thanks to Committee for their generous donation in April 2019.
At the April 2019 meeting Committee were advised that WGHC had paid its Corporation Tax for 2018-19. WGHC paid £2,168 based on the interest it received in the year of £11,388. Members were advised that WGHC had written off £2,414 in bad debt during the year. This amount included debt from 3 current tenants who were either sequestrated or entered into protected trust deeds. Committee decided membership of the Audit Sub-Committee and agreed it would meet on 23rd April to discuss and approve the Audit Plan and then meet again on 23rd May 2019 for the Audit Clearance meeting. It was agreed that Alexander Sloan would present the draft statutory accounts to the entire Committee at their meeting on 12th June 2019. Members were advised that following the introduction of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s new Framework, WGHC had received their Letter of Engagement from the SHR, which stated that each RSL now has an appointed SHR staff member to communicate with and no further action is required from WGHC until their Assurance Statement has been assessed post October 2019. Committee were advised that WGHC has now received Living Wage Accreditation and that Lorna Brown (Chairperson) attended the launch of ARCHIE along with the CEO, in the Edinburgh City Chambers on 22nd March 2019. The Chair formally signed the new ARCHIE Constitution and attended its first general meeting. Committee agreed they would have their formal Audit Skills Assessment on 15th May 2019. Finally, Committee approved 3 donations: £850 for the Dolly Parton Book Scheme for all WGHC children aged under 5 years; £1,000 to the Pilton Youth and Children’s Project and £1,480 to the local Prentice Centre so they can continue to run their Adult Art classes.
At the March 2019 meeting Committee were advised that the agreed sum of Housing Association Grant had now been repaid to the City of Edinburgh Council (following their decision in December to repay the amount instead of re-using it for development). Members voted to accept the 3 year salary proposal recommended by the Employers in Voluntary Housing Negotiating Team. The Window and Doors replacement programme for Area 1 was discussed in detail. After agreeing the contract was to be awarded to Sidey, they approved the window and door options to be offered to tenants. Their decisions were based on costs of the various options available. Works are due to begin the week beginning 29th April 2019 and run for approximately 10 weeks. Members reviewed the forecasted financial position of the Co-op after the completion of this contract. The renewal terms (including costs) of the organisation’s Insurance policy were approved and members were informed a small discount had been achieved. Committee agreed to move forward with plans for their annual audit skills assessment and approved the Performance Review plans for individual Committee Members, the CEO and Staff. A staffing update was provided as were updates in Housing Management and Maintenance issues. Finally, Committee were advised that the large scale Tenant Satisfaction Survey work had now been completed and the results would be presented to them in May by Research Resource.
At the February Meeting, Committee once again worked through a full agenda. Firstly, they noted the 3rd Quarterly Performance Reports. There were no concerns reported and noted WGHC’s financial position continues to grow stronger. Committee noted an update in the organisation’s Treasury Management position and that Our Power (the utilities company providing gas and electric for some tenants of social landlords) has gone into administration. Committee appointed MenCO to carry out the Co-op’s Landscape Maintenance and Garden Aid Service for 2019-20. Approval was given for WGHC to seek the procurement of an Internal Auditor and a Contractor to carry out WGHC’s next Stock Condition Survey. Again, Committee noted an update on Staffing and that WGHC’s next Health & Safety Audit was being arranged for the end of the financial year. Committee were given further information with regards to the Replacement of Doors and Windows in Area One and were advised a final quote would be presented to them for their consideration at the March 2019 Meeting. WGHC used the Scottish Procurement Framework to procure the Contractor for this project. Committee further noted that WGHC has now had emergency lighting installed in all of its stairwells and it is expected that WGHC will undertake a programme of works to have all tenants’ homes smoke – alarms linked (as per Scottish Government Guidance) over the next two years. Finally, Committee noted that Research Resource were well underway with the large scale tenant satisfaction survey works, that WGHC Staff were carrying out both a paper survey and office based open consultation session on how it allocates its empty properties (as required by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014) and also they approved a donation request from the local community centre, the Prentice Centre.
There was no Committee Meeting in January 2019.
The December meeting was a busy one. Committee approved various revisions to budgets and the Business Plan. Committee considered the outcomes of a Validation Exercise (carried out by an external Consultant) concerning WGHC’s performance against some of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s indicators. Committee subsequently approved changes to WGHC’s Benchmark figures for the forthcoming year 2019-20. Following successful consultations Committee decided to keep the frequency of WGHC rents on a weekly basis for the time being and approved a rent increase of 2.5% for 2019-20. Committee approved that WGHC would officially become a member of ARCHIE (the Alliance of Registered Co-operatives and Housing Associations Independent in Edinburgh) and agreed on its constitution. ARCHIE is an independent membership where smaller social landlords in Edinburgh have agreed to work together to help enjoy economies of scale with procurement contracts, share expertise and provide organisational support for one another. Members of the 2019-20 Audit sub-Committee were confirmed and Committee were also provided with a staffing update. Committee agreed to two training sessions being held in February about Governance, Self Assessment and the new Regulatory Framework (standards and requirements). Finally Committee noted timetable updates concerning various Component Replacement Programmes and a Stock Condition Survey.
At the Meeting on 14th November 2018 Committee considered and approved the Quarterly Performance Reports. WGHC remains financially strong and no concerns were highlighted. The organisation’s operational performance continues to perform well and again there are no concerns in this area. Members discussed staffing, including staffing levels and approved a staffing review carried out by the CEO. All staff members were consulted on a one to one basis. This has resulted in some new positions within the organisation, the details of which will published in the December Newsletter. Committee agreed to remove an existing contractor and add a new contractor to the Approved Contractor List. A presentation was given by the Scottish Procurement Alliance on how WGHC will procure from their framework for the window and door contract due to be carried out in Area 1 in 2019-20.
The Meeting on 10th October 2018 was a busy one. Committee discussed staffing and noted changes to future financial accounting requirements (to do with the way any pension deficit or surplus is calculated and then presented in company accounts). Committee discussed WGHC’s Performance Report on the Scottish Social Housing Charter for 2017-18 and approved the publication to be published on the WGHC website and to be sent out to all tenants. A review of WGHC’s performance and strategies was undertaken and some new priorities and objectives were approved by Committee including an agreement to improve and upgrade fire safety systems, to look again at WGHC’s Mission Statement in 2019-20 and to keep up to date in regards to the current situation where manufacturers have temporarily withdrawn all fire doors from market supply until all doors meet the UK Government’s performance standards. WGHC are due to carry out a replacement of doors and windows in some of its stock in 2019, however, this project may have to be delayed until the fire door situation is resolved. Finally, Committee approved a donation to Craigroyston Football Club to help them purchase a replacement battery for their defibrillator and to sponsor a Welfare Rights Advisor from Granton Information Centre to hold surgeries within the local Prentice Centre.
At the Committee Meeting on 12th September 2018 Committee elected Lorna Brown as Chairperson, Jim Hemphill as Vice Chair and Marilyn Dickson as Treasurer. Committee also noted that WGHC is now a member of the Scottish Procurement Alliance and that emergency stair lighting is to be installed into all stairs to bring them in line with the stairs in Granton Mill and Forthquarter. Committee approved a change in job title for the Housing Manager’s post to Housing & Corporate Services Manager and that the post should be advertised with immediate effect. This is to replace the former Housing Manager, Larke Adger, who has now been appointed CEO. Given this is a second-in-line post within the organisation Committee agreed a member of the Staffing Sub-Committee will sit in on the interviews.
On 27th August 2018, a Special Meeting was held. This had been requested by the Chairperson. At the meeting the Chairperson announced to the Committee that the Staffing Sub Committee (along with the assistance of a Recruitment Consultant from EVH) had now completed the recruitment and selection process for the new CEO and advised that as from 1st September 2018, Larke Adger would be appointed as WGHC’s new CEO.
On 15th August 2018, Committee received the First Quarter’s Financial Performance and Operational Performance Reports for 2018-19, and noted that WGHC’s cash position remains strong and overall performance remained very good. The Committee also discussed and approved arrangements concerning Committee Membership and the forthcoming AGM on 3rd September. Committee also considered and noted reports concerning Asset Management, Staffing and the Tenant Consultations concerning the 2019-20 rent increase and move from weekly to monthly rents. Committee agreed that all the members of the board continue to demonstrate their effectiveness, including the four members who have more than 9 years service.
On July 11th Committee received the report of the external auditor who said it was a clean audit with a good, consistent set of accounts, that WGHC was keeping operating costs down and investing in the housing stock. Committee also looked at banking and planned maintenance projects. This was the last meeting before the CEO’s retirement and Committee appointed Larke Adger acting CEO and Secretary until the post was filled.
On June 13th Committee completed the strategic option appraisal with Alison Smith of alanpark consultants. Members agreed that the preferred options were to continue as an independent Registered Social Landlord (RSL) and recruit a new CEO while continuing to discuss joint working with the other Edinburgh RSLs. Committee also reviewed financial projections, financial controls and staff training.
On May 30th Committee approved the annual energy efficiency report. Members discussed a report on the option appraisal from consultants allanpark and approved the proposed approach.
On May 16th Committee approved the audit plan having received a report from our auditors, Alexander Sloan. They also agreed to carry out a strategic options appraisal prior to the retirement of the CEO. Finance and performance reports and returns were reviewed. Some small donations to local causes were agreed.
On April 11th 2018 Committee revised our Health & Safety Policy. There were also reports on progress with replacing the CEO and on tenancy management. Various aspects of planned maintenance were discussed and a budget and tender list for external painting and associated works at West Pilton Bank was approved.
In February 2018 Committee reviewed a report from the staffing working group and agreed to make the Tenant Outreach Officer post redundant, and to engage Prospect Community Housing to provide financial services. Members also discussed financial performance, the recent kitchen replacement contract, the grass cutting service, and future window replacement.
In December 2017 Committee approved a Business Plan including projects, budgets and performance benchmarks for 2018-19. It also reviewed office hours and the Complaints and Rent policies.
Members also looked at banking arrangements and set up a working group to review staffing and prepare for the retirement of the CEO.
In November 2017 Scotland’s Housing Network presented an analysis of WGHC performance in 2016-17. WGHC was one of the top performing social landlords. The tenant consultation on the proposed rent increase was reviewed, responses were overwhelmingly positive. Committee agreed a rent increase of 2.6% and a budget for 2018-19.
In October 2017 members received updates on staffing, treasury management, discussions with other RSLs and maintenance projects. Members considered WGHC performance and agreed priorities and financial assumptions for the coming year. A new Tenancy Management Policy was approved. Changes to the annual children’s’ Christmas painting competition were agreed.
In September 2017 Lorna Brown was re-elected as Chair, Jim Hemphill as Vice Chair and Marilyn Dickson as Treasurer. Committee training dates were agreed. Other business included treasury management; current building contracts; and the Scottish Housing Regulator’s latest landlord report. WGHC scores very highly across all indicators, especially tenant satisfaction.
In July 2017 Committee approved a draft budget and agreed to consult tenants about a proposed 2.6% rent increase. Members discussed a performance report, training priorities, maintenance projects and estate management. The CEO was authorised to fill a permanent Administration Assistant post and to replace the retiring finance assistant.
In June 2017 the Auditor reported to Committee. She said that no problems were found and WGHC is in a strong financial position. Committee agreed to work with Edinburgh RSLs to look at options for joint working. Members discussed staff and committee training needs and possible staff changes.
In May 2017 Committee reviewed the tenant consultation on changes to anti-social behaviour procedures. The response was in favour and the changes will go into a new draft policy later in the year. Members also looked at upcoming risks. These include staff retirals, welfare reform and inflation.
In April 2017, the Auditor presented the audit plan and Committee reviewed the annual “letter of engagement” from the Scottish Housing Regulator. Once again WGHC will be “low engagement” which means the Regulator is happy that we are well managed and financially stable.
On 28th March Committee the CEO reported on long term financial planning to allow us to maintain and improve our houses. They also reviewed the IndigoHouse report and recommendations from the staffing working group. Committee agreed to continue as an independent RSL and appoint EVH to recruit a new CEO.
Committee agreed that Menco be re-appointed to carry out both landscape maintenance and our grass cutting aid scheme. Committee also decided that, from April, stair cleaning will be carried out by Quay Community Improvements. This new community benefit company is a subsidiary of Port of Leith Housing Association.
Committee Members receive Long Service Awards
WGHC’s new financial year started on 1st April 2018. An update on the Committee’s work over the year is published above. The article below celebrates the awarding of the Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH) Long Service Awards presented to 4 of our longest standing Committee Members in May 2017.
West Granton Housing Co-op would not exist without the Committee of Management. Their dedication, conviction to making decisions in the best interests of tenants and the invaluable contribution of their own time are all critical to the success of WGHC.
In honour of their achievements, on 10th May 2017, Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH) bestowed upon 4 Committee Members “Long Service Recognition Awards.” From left to right, the photographs above picture Joe Moir, Marilyn Dickson, George Thomson and Lorna Brown. Together they clock up an amazing 107 years of service.