Prove it! – Can you back up your compliance claim?

Every year, RSL’s in Scotland are required to submit to the Housing Regulator their Annual Return on the Charter, detailing the performance and status of their organization, how they look after their tenants and how they maintain their housing stock.

The Scottish Government, never one for sitting idle, are continually introducing new performance and quality standards and so RSL’s need to be able to measure themselves against these standards and include a statement as to their level of compliance. The problem can be, when the Regulator comes knocking, looks at your compliance claim and says “prove it!”

Let’s consider two examples; The Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) and the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH). Both of these standards are based on information collected on the condition and performance of the housing stock which is then used to inform the various criteria within each of the standards and hence, their level of compliance. This poses a number of challenges to the RSL:

  • You need to have the source data in order to assess the level of compliance.
  • The data needs to be up to date to ensure that it accurately reflects the current status of each property.
  • There needs to be a clear, easily followed correlation from the claimed compliance level back to the source data.
  • All the data needs to be in the one place and easily accessible.

The key therefore is to have a single point of reference that informs all of these outputs, that can be updated and managed easily and that doesn’t require a degree in IT to understand it. We have spoken to many of our clients over the years about this and the common problems we have seen include:

  • The source data they generated has never been updated to reflect completed works or changes in condition.
  • Their perception of their compliance level differs from what their source data would suggest.
  • They have some information that supports their claim; if only they could find it!
  • They have supporting information but it is held in different systems or in different formats and one doesn’t match the other.

The list could go on but the common thread is that in order to demonstrate to an outside third party; be that the Housing Regulator or a prospective partner; that you can back up your claims and easily prove your position, you need to address your data management processes. That doesn’t have to be a scary or expensive prospect but it needs to be lead by someone with an understanding of both the data management and the purpose for which it has been gathered. If you have confidence in your own systems then that will engender confidence from others and if your systems work then the data should speak for itself.