RSH responds to Coronavirus crisis with changes to regulatory approach

Letter to providers confirm interim “oversight on the things that matter most” approach.

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has written to all registered providers of social housing setting out the changes to its approach over COVID-19.

The letter also outlines expectations about providers contacting RSH about significant compliance challenges.

RSH says this is intended both to support providers in focussing on frontline operations and to identify where there may be challenges that the sector or individual providers need regulatory support to meet.

“[Coronavirus] leaves us all facing unprecedented challenges in our daily lives and an uncertain future economic climate” said RSH Chief Executive Fiona MacGregor.

“Amid very significant operational pressures, housing providers are rightly prioritising their work and services to protect their tenants and communities whilst keeping their staff safe.

“We are supporting this by pausing some of our usual regulation and focussing our oversight on the things that matter most: that providers keep tenants safe and that the social housing sector remains financially viable.”

Across the sector, it is acknowledged the shared priority is to maintain tenant safety, including addressing emergency and urgent repairs and statutory compliance with health and safety requirements.

RSH accepts that the impact of the outbreak, and the measures to contain it, will mean  some incidence of statutory non-compliance and repairs backlogs.

The letter assures providers that it will apply a “proportionate” regulatory approach and take full account of the current circumstances.

In turn, providers are expected to inform RSH “in a timely manner” about material non-compliance with regulatory standards – focussing on the safety of tenants and financial viability.

RSH previously announced it would pause in-depth assessments and now extends that pause till further notice.

In addition, RSH has postponed the submission deadline for the Statistical Data Return and the Local Authority Data Return until 31st October.

The submission date for the Financial Forecast Return is deferred, with RSH saying updates will be provided in due course.

To address the risks arising with tenant safety and the economic impact of Coronavirus, RSH will survey providers to collect information about how they are delivering emergency and urgent repairs, care and support services, and compliance with health and safety requirements.

It will also ask some providers who face higher financial risks to share more of their own financial information.

The regulatory approach will be kept under review over the coming weeks and months.

RSH – New deadlines:

  • The original submission deadline for the Statistical Data Return was 31st May – now been extended until 31st October
  • The Local Authority Data Return deadline has also been extended to 31st October
  • The original submission deadline for the Financial Forecast Return was 30th June 2020 – now deferred
  • Providers will still need to submit Q4 returns between 1st-23rd April for the Quarterly Survey, but no longer need to provide the same level of year-end information

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