A message from Amanda Newton, RBH Chief Executive – 2nd November 2023
At the Special Members’ Meeting on the proposed rule changes to strengthen RBH’s governance and help move us forward on our journey to regulatory compliance, I want to let you know that Members of the Society voted in favour of the changes by the required two-thirds majority.
Thanks go to everyone that has engaged throughout the process and helped us to have a meaningful two-way dialogue about how we move forward positively.
I recognise that some Members did not support the proposals and we will continue to listen and engage and ensure that all Members feel able to be part of bringing our mutual to life. I am looking forward to working together across Members, the Board, the Executive and our elected Representative Body to strengthen our mutual and deliver great services.
Please note that the information below on this page is an archive of the information shared as part of the engagement on the proposed RBH rule changes held between September and November 2023.
Proposed changes to the RBH rules – a note from the RBH Chair, Kevin Brady
As part of our recovery plan, we promised to carry out an in-depth review of what went wrong and why in relation to the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.
This was to make sure that the circumstances that led to Awaab’s death can never be repeated, and that RBH is in the best position to provide the homes and services that our tenants deserve and expect.
One of the things that we found as part of our “lessons learnt” review was that our governance framework was too complicated. As a result, we want to make some changes to make sure that RBH can deliver great homes and great services in the future. These changes will make RBH a stronger organisation and will ensure that our tenants and employees remain at the heart of our mutual Society. The changes will also help RBH to demonstrate to the Regulator of Social Housing that we are compliant with their governance requirements.
Our proposals have already been discussed with our Board, with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Representative Body and shared with all our Representative Body. Now we want to share them with all Members, tenants, and employees so you can tell us what you think. As we are a mutual Society, after this engagement period ends, RBH Members will vote on whether to approve the changes we need to make to implement the new framework.
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Why are we proposing changes?
RBH is currently rated G3 for governance by its Regulator, the Regulator of Social Housing. A G3 rating is non-compliant. The Regulator requires RBH to be compliant with its governance requirements and the changes we are proposing will help RBH demonstrate to the Regulator that it does so.
As part of our recovery plan following our regulatory downgrade to a non-compliant G3, we promised to carry out an in-depth review of what went wrong and why in relation to the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.
This was to make sure that the circumstances that led to Awaab’s death can never been repeated, and that RBH is in the best position to provide the homes and services that our tenants deserve and expect.
One of the things that we found as part of our “lessons learnt” review was that our governance framework was too complicated. As a result, we want to make some changes to make sure that RBH is able to deliver great homes and great services in the future. These changes will make RBH a stronger organisation and will ensure that our tenants and employees remain at the heart of our mutual society.
What changes are we proposing?
The Representative Body will have an additional function which is ‘to ensure the work of the Society is focused on the needs of Tenants’. Given RBH’s mutual status, it is proposed that both tenant and employee Members of the Representative Body are involved in undertaking scrutiny reviews of RBH’s services – 3 reviews each year. The outcome of those reviews will be reported to the Board and to the newly formed Tenant Services Committee. Representative Body will be able to monitor whether changes have been implemented to improve services to tenants.
Some functions of the Representative Body will transfer to the Board. They include approval of the corporate strategy and actively monitoring performance to the corporate strategy, appointing Board Members and approving remuneration of the Board and Executive team. Our Representative Body will still play a critical role in helping develop corporate strategy, as well as RBH’s vision and its values. The Representative Body will also still have a role at the interview table for new Board members and the Chair of the Board. Remuneration of Board and Executive members is always set out in the financial statements which are published on RBH’s website, so that information will always be available to all tenants and employees.
Update (9th October)
In addition, we are now proposing one further change - that we should not exclude tenants from being members of the Society where their homes may in future be owned by another landlord but managed by RBH.
This change will ensure that tenants in College Bank are able to remain members of RBH if the proposal to transfer ownership of the blocks to L&G Affordable Homes is delivered.
What are the benefits of the changes for Members, tenants, employees, and the Representative Body?
- Through delivery of our recovery plan, the proposed changes will be a big step in helping us meet the expectations of our Regulator in relation to our governance and provide assurance to our Regulator that we are fit to move from a non-compliant governance rating (G3) to a compliant grading.
- Having robust governance in place benefits all of our tenants and employees and ensures RBH has a secure future.
- A return to a compliant grading will positively impact RBH’s ability to raise funding at favourable rates and deliver on our commitments to tenants. Being non-compliant for governance means we are seen as higher risk to potential lenders and so it costs RBH more to borrow if we are non-compliant.
- A return to a compliant grading will allow RBH to access government funds to develop new homes, which it cannot do now because of its non-compliant governance grading.
- The proposed Rule changes will see the Representative Body retain significant responsibilities, such as being key to developing the corporate strategy and being at the interview table for Board member and Chair appointments.
- Through the scrutiny role we are proposing, the Representative Body (of tenants and employees) and Members will be holding the Board and the Executive to account for the delivery of great service to tenants.
- As part of the scrutiny role of Representative Body, employee Members will be able to influence changes to working practices to ensure they are effective, efficient and focussed on improving service delivery outcomes.
- The changes we are proposing will help to strengthen and enhance the tenant voice working alongside the Tenant Voice forums we have recently set up, our Customer Complaints Panel and the new Tenant Services Committee.
- Members will be involved in areas that matter most to tenants and employees.
- These changes, combined with all of the other work we are doing to make sure the tenant voice is heard, will stand RBH in good stead for compliance with the Regulator’s new consumer regulation regime which comes into force in April 2024.
- The Board will be solely responsible the governance of RBH. The Board is held accountable to the Regulator for this, but currently it does not hold all the responsibility.
- The Board will be able to ensure it has the right skills round the table to focus on serving all RBH tenants and employees.
How do these changes fit with RBH's mutual status?
Our mutual status – tenants and employees working together for the benefit of all - is very important to us. The changes we are proposing strengthen our model and make it more in line with others where the key business of the organisation is directed by the Board but there is significant empowerment of all those the organisation serves. RBH will have a very strong and visible commitment to listening and working with all our tenants and employees.
Our proposals will help us bring mutuality to life through a primary focus on listening to and working with our tenants and employees to provide high-quality service delivery. They help us embrace our mutuality, whilst moving away from an over-engineered and complex governance model that inhibits our ability to deliver an efficient and effective service.
What happens next?
Following our period of engagement, we’ll hold a Special Members’ Meeting on Thursday 2nd November where Members will vote on whether to approve the changes. All Members will receive an invitation to attend. You can also vote online in advance on the resolutions.
Thank you to all the tenant and employee members who attended our engagement sessions in September and early October. In the run-up to our Special Members' Meeting, we have decided to run some additional sessions for any Members who wish to find out more or ask questions. These events are:
- Tuesday 10th October (1-2pm)
- Monday 16th October (3-4pm)
- Tuesday 24th October (6-7pm - online only)
- Wednesday 25th October (6-7pm - online only)
- Thursday 26th October (10-11am)
- Monday 30th October (11am-12 noon)
We have been asked to hold some additional evening sessions - we'll add details of these meetings as soon as they have been arranged.
All events can be attended in-person or remotely. In-person sessions will be held at Unique Enterprise Centre, Belfield Road, Rochdale, OL16 2UP.
You can also email any questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary Of Proposed 2023 Changes To The RBH Rules
Proposed additional role for Representative Body - Scrutiny
Proposed Revised RBH Rules November 2023