17. Views on additions to the Charter
Question 16: Is there anything else you think the Charter should cover? If so, please tell us what and why you think it should be included
17.1 66 respondents provided further commentary in response to this question. Several others simply indicated that they had nothing else to add to their previous comments.
17.2 Amongst the many suggestions for additions to the Charter were several comments reflecting on the perceived value of the Charter to date. Examples are:
"We are not suggesting any radical changes to the Charter. We have recently submitted our third Annual Return on the Charter and are starting to benefit from trend and benchmarking information. To alter the Charter substantially would reduce these positive impacts".
Tenant Participation Advisory Service Scotland:
"The outcomes and standards should remain largely the same, they are suitably broad and are not prescriptive and therefore enable tenants and landlords to agree local performance standards and local services. It encompasses all Scotland's diversity of landlords. Nothing to add".
17.3 Comments from respondents emerged under a number of broad themes.
Communication and consultation
17.4 TRGs in particular focused on this theme. A prevailing view was that whilst the Charter underpins the requirement for social landlords to consult with tenants, in practice this happens to varying degrees. TRGs recommended ways in which consultation can become more robust and consistent across landlords: by increasing awareness and understanding of the Charter amongst tenants; establishing a common definition for consultation for all to use; ensuring all documents are in plain English to encourage engagement by tenants; keeping the Charter document short in order to make it accessible to tenants; making the title of the Charter more engaging, for example, "What can I expect from my Social Landlord?"; and making the Charter more prescriptive on the topic of consultation.
17.5 A few respondents emphasised what they saw as the need for landlords to involve tenants, RTOs and other customers more in the production of their Annual Return on the Charter ( ARC).
West Strathclyde Registered Tenant Organisation Regional Network:
"Have an outcome that requires landlords to include tenants, RTOs and other customers in the development of the ARC. Generally unhappy with landlords writing their own report cards".
Interface with broader contexts
17.6 There were questions raised over how the Charter fits with broader legislative and regulatory frameworks. A local authority highlighted relevant context as health and social care integration, digital inclusion and welfare reform, with all of these potentially impacting on the scope of social landlords. Health and safety regulations were identified repeatedly as requiring consideration over and above the Charter outcomes. A public body identified related areas such as estate management, and suggested that a mapping of all of the broader standards and regulations which RSLs were subject to could be useful.
17.7 The role of the SHR as a "corporate parent"  was raised by CELCIS and Who Cares? Scotland; the Scottish Human Rights Commission called for a rights-based approach to be embedded into the framework of standards and outcomes.
Relevance of "place" and physical environment
17.8 A small number of respondents had raised the relevance of the wider physical environment in their previous comments. Once again, this issue emerged as a theme recommended for further attention. Seven respondents, most of them individuals, commented on the importance of good quality surrounds and accessible outdoor space on their quality of life and health and mental wellbeing. One individual highlighted air pollution as an issue to be considered in the Charter.
Additional topics suggested for the Charter
17.9 A number of further topics were suggested by one or two respondents:
- Address the needs of migrants and refugees.
- Include private landlords.
- Include sheltered housing.
- Include tied accommodation.
- Reference to new build programmes, perhaps in the supporting narrative for the value for money outcome.
- More emphasis and attention should be given to gender issues of women and social housing.