The Regulator of Social Housing has this month told large social landlords that it intends to gradually scale up its regulatory activity as the pandemic situation eases.
In March the RSH wrote to providers setting out how it would flex its regulatory approach during the lockdown. This included pausing the In-Depth Assessment (IDA) programme, extending the deadline for submission of annual accounts and the Financial Viability Accounts return to 31 December at the latest, and postponing submission of the Financial Forecast Return.
Now, in a letter to large providers, RSH chief executive Fiona MacGregor said: “We will be running some virtual IDAs with a small number of providers over the summer; these providers have already been contacted to ensure they are able, and willing, at this stage to accommodate an IDA. As part of that, we will begin to reinstate our work on assessing grades for those providers who are currently at G3 or G2 and who are well advanced in addressing issues identified in the current regulatory judgements.
“We will also need to gather further assurance on the overall position of the sector and refresh our published grades. We will do this through the annual stability check process. To do that we will require FFRs supported by current business plans from providers by 30 September 2020. The deadline for FVA and accounts submissions remains 31 December 2020, though we strongly encourage you to submit as soon as accounts and the FVA have been signed off.”
MacGregor added: “The business plan and FFR should be an accurate reflection of what you intend to do based on your current understanding including, for example, your projected development activity, planned investment in repairs and improvements to your existing stock. They should be based on robust evidence about the condition of your stock, taking into account any plans for building safety or energy efficiency work as well as the impact of COVID-19.”
She said the Regulator appreciated that the situation remained uncertain, and that providers might be less confident in their business planning and forecasting than usual.
The Regulator also understood that provider Boards would wish to be sighted on submissions and therefore the RSH would consider requests for slightly later submissions where needed to accommodate this, MacGregor said.
The RSH has however opened the NROSH+ system for submissions and encouraged providers not to wait for deadlines to submit FFRs or FVAs.
“As previously outlined, we have continued to ask for quarterly survey returns in line with our normal timescales, and we will continue with our recently introduced CORS return on a monthly basis for the time being,” MacGregor said.
“We will continue to be flexible and proportionate in our approach to regulatory engagement and look forward to working with you in the coming months.”