Economic network

Scottish Housing Network unveils results of survey of housing governing bodies

Attracting and retaining new governing body members was flagged as a major challenge facing the housing sector in a survey of housing governing bodies.

Scottish Housing Network undertook a survey of housing governing bodies to understand the composition and demographics of governing body members and the views of those involved in governance.

Social housing generates significant economic and social impacts for its residents, communities and for Scotland. Strong governance is essential in housing associations and cooperatives, providing the strategic direction and leadership needed to create a successful organization. The network carried out the study as a starting point to understand the views of those involved in the governance of the social housing sector.

The results highlight that governing bodies tend to be aging in terms of demographics, with only 1.7% of respondents reporting being under the age of 29. Attracting and retaining new members of governing bodies is difficult, with almost half of respondents saying they have had recruitment and more than a third of respondents indicating that there are one or two vacancies. Conversely, a high proportion of respondents indicated that they had served on governing bodies for more than 8 years. This, coupled with the aging demographic of governing body members, has implications for succession planning.

The study also revealed that most respondents viewed their respective organization as strong or strong in most areas of governance with some weaknesses. They also reported effective and consistent challenge and support for senior management in their current governance arrangements. The vast majority of respondents said they received training and development that regularly provided training tailored to the needs of the board or offered targeted training for this purpose. This indicates that housing providers are investing in developing the skills, knowledge and experience that their board members need.

Trudi Tokarczyk, Service Improvement Manager for Scotland’s Housing Network, said: “This survey is a starting point for understanding the views of those involved in the governance of the social housing sector and the key governance challenges facing the sector is facing.

“Attracting and retaining new board members is a challenge, however, the more complex and difficult financial environment in which social housing is forced to operate has placed greater demands on the management of housing organisations. This can make it difficult to recruit and retain members of the governing body.

The report will be launched today at Networks’ upcoming RSL Forum.