September sees the start of Autumn and the end of many audit processes. Many of our Registered Social Landlords (RSL) clients hold their AGMs in September, and 2022 saw lots of meetings go ahead in person (rather than virtually) since 2019.
Attending these meetings as auditor gives us the opportunity to meet the members of an RSL and, more often than not, assist with the prize drawing for the raffle!
It also allows us to see the key support that each RSL (whether a large entity or a smaller Co-operative) provides to its tenants and ultimately their wider communities. At the AGM the RSL has the chance to explain to its members the past year’s performance, include them in its plans for future years and more importantly remind them of the services that it provides. An RSL’s key service is the provision and maintenance of affordable housing, but there are lots of additional services beyond that, such as supporting people with learning disabilities, extra care housing, financial inclusion services, welfare rights advice and many more. With the current cost of living crisis, these services have become even more important.
Speaking to members at various AGMs, I found them to be very positive about the work that is undertaken by the RSL and by the Management Committees and Boards who give their time throughout each year to ensure the proper governance and running of operations.
At the present time RSLs are faced with many issues, the most recent of which has been the announcement by the Scottish Government to freeze rents to at least 31 March 2023. This significantly affects the future level of income and therefore the cash resources available for the repair and maintenance of housing properties (including energy efficiency standards), future development plans and the ability to service existing external loan commitments.
Members are aware of these issues. Their support for their RSL was shown at the AGMs through the way that many members took the opportunity to publicly thank the staff and Board for their work.
The AGM continues to be a very important meeting in terms of member inclusion, governance and transparency. As auditor it was a fantastic opportunity to meet and spend time with the members.
Apologies though to those whose ticket was not drawn out of the various raffles – I can only say that the process was completely fair and thoroughly audited!
Author – Stuart Beattie, Head of RSLs