Board minutes - November 2020Published: 25 March 2021
Freedom of information class: How we take decisions
Board minutes and papers for November 2020.
Our board papers for November 2020 accompany these minutes.
|Chair||Jennifer Henderson, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland|
Janet Egdell, Accountable Officer |
Kenny Crawford, Business Development Director
Billy Harkness, Corporate Director
Chris Kerr, Registration and Policy Director
Deepa Mann-Kler, Non-Executive Director
Andrew Harvey, Non-Executive Director
Andrew Miller, Non-Executive Director
Chief Finance Officer (HB)|
Head of Land Register Completion (FM) - item 5
Chief Data Officer – item 5
Head of Registration (SS) – item 6
Head of Customer Experience (IM) – item 6
Head of Risk and Information Governance (JM) – items 15 - 17
Enterprise Risk Manager (CI) – items 15 - 17
Head of IT Service (PC) – item 17
Security Architect (BB) – item 17
|Secretariat||Head of Secretariat (LW)|
Introduction, apologies and declaration of interests
- The Keeper welcomed everyone to the November RoS board meeting. A warm welcome was extended to the Chief Finance Officer at her first board meeting, and the Keeper highlighted that this was Andrew Harvey’s first board meeting since taking over as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.
- No apologies were received.
- No declarations of interest were made.
- The Business Development Director agreed to be the board observer.
Agenda items to be taken in private
- The board agreed that the following items would be taken in private:
- Item 4 - Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) Update to the board. Publication may inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views. (ARC minutes will be published)
- Item 8 - 6 month corporate plan review and forward look. Publication may inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views whilst a policy position is developed. Updated corporate plan will be made publicly available when finalised.
- Item 9 – Fee review update. Not suitable for publication due to commercial sensitivities. Public consultation on our fee review is currently live.
- Item 15, Annex 1A and Annex 2 – Key Risk Register and Assurance Framework. Not suitable for publication due to sensitivities around risk responses and assurances and to allow for the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views.
Minute of meeting previous meeting
- The minute of the meeting of 18 – 19 August 2020 was accepted as an accurate reflection of the meeting.
- The board agreed that the following actions are now closed: 4336, 4564, 4565, 4566, 4567, 4568, 4569, 4570, 4571, 4572, 4573, 4574.3872 & 4563
- The Board agreed that the following actions are ongoing: 3872 and 4563
Audit and Risk Committee update
- The Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) Chair provided an update on the ARC meetings that took place on 1 October 2020 and 2 November 2020.
- The board noted that some internal audit reports had been delayed, resulting in four reports coming to the February 2021 ARC meeting. The board were assured to hear that the ARC was content with the proposed reprioritisation of work and would monitor progress closely, receiving audit reports outwith committee as soon as they become available, to ensure the internal audit programme of work is delivered as outlined within this financial year.
- The board noted that the ARC received a transition project update and were assured by what they heard.
- The board noted that the ARC agreed a programme of key risk deep dives for 2021, which aligns with key risks identified in the risk management and assurance process and outcomes will be reported to the board throughout the year.
- The board were reminded that they can remit any areas of concern to the ARC to review further from a risk perspective and report back and agreed that it would be helpful to do a deeper dive into an opportunity risk around customers. It was noted that although there are no concerns around customer satisfaction, the board were in agreement that it would be helpful to explore how we can interact further and ensure our interactions are providing maximum impact.
ARC Chair to consider an ARC deep dive into the opportunity risk around Customers and how RoS can interact further and ensure our interactions are providing maximum impact.
- The board noted that an ARC effectiveness review was due to take place imminently and the results would be reported into the March 2021 board.
- The board noted that Audit Scotland had launched a COVID e-hub to bring together Covid-19 related reports and other resources.
- The board thanked the ARC Chair for the helpful update.
Land register completion update
- The board welcomed the Head of Land Register Completion (LRC) and the Chief Data Officer to the meeting, who provided an overview of an alternative approach to LRC.
- The board noted the complexities around completing the land register, including the volume of historical data to be transferred from the Register of Sasines to the Land Register. It was highlighted that registration in Scotland started in 1617, whilst, by comparison, the land register in England and Wales started in 1925.
- The board noted that meetings have taken place with various stakeholders, who are supportive of this alternative approach, which will help to answer the question of who owns Scotland by 2024. It was highlighted that this approach is complementary to full completion, which we are still striving towards.
- The board questioned how the benefits of the alternative approach had been considered, including making effective use of available resource and reducing the cost to the taxpayer of delivering the target. It was agreed that the Head of LRC would share more information on the Business Intelligence and Analytics (BIA) workings around these benefits.
Head of LRC to provide more detail from BIA around how the benefits of a completed land register have been considered.
- The board noted that proof of concept work in ongoing with early adopting data providers and is likely to be complete by the end of quarter three.
- The board questioned how we assess the integrity of external spatial data provided and it was stressed that the alternative approach is providing indicative ownership only, with no real right against it and would have a clear warning that this is indicative ownership data provided by third parties that has not been validated by RoS. The board noted that legal certainty can only be achieved by registration.
- The board heard that a comprehensive communications plan is in place to promote this approach. More information can be found in our blog.
- The board thanked the Head of Land Register Completion (LRC) and the Chief Data Officer for the comprehensive update and were supportive of this approach.
Arrear clearing plan
- The board welcomed the Head of Registration and Head of Customer Experience to the meeting, who presented an update on the arrear clearing plan and associated KPIs.
- The board noted that good progress was being made against the original arrear clearing targets in March, however, this has slipped due to the impact of Covid, as detailed in the paper. It is therefore proposed that the strategy is adjusted to tackle new casework more aggressively and focus on older cases in order to bring down the age of the arrear and provide more certainty to the customer about when cases will be returned.
- The board noted a productivity workstream had been created in order to increase productivity to pre Covid levels. The board agreed it would be helpful to see a visual demonstrating the bridge of issues pre and post Covid that are having an effect on productivity.
Accountable Officer to work with the productivity workstream to create a visual demonstrating the bridge of issues pre and post Covid that are having an effect on productivity.
- The board noted that a lot of progress has been made on productivity due to delivery of IT kit and successful remote training, however, agreed there was still work to be done. It was highlighted that the move to squad working was proving to be effective, with engaged, multiskilled groups of people that are able to pivot to any casework, such as the older cases.
- The board noted Annex A and agreed it would be helpful to see a visual representation of the what resource is focussing on what aspect of the arrear to complement this table.
Head of Registration to provide a visual representation of Annex A (progression towards the 90% target) in order to highlight what resource is focussing on what aspect of the arrear.
- The board noted that discussions had taken place with various stakeholders and lenders, who were generally supportive of this approach.
- The board noted the three main risks around achieving the proposed targets, namely:
- a sustained period of time where the market is above the midpoint line (modelling is based on midpoint if a buoyant/slow market)
- significant loss of productive hours over winter due to circumstances outwith our control (sickness, schools closing, Covid outbreaks, broadband outages etc)
- cases where we have to go back to the applicant for more information, or reject (it is outwith our control how quickly they respond)
- The board agreed the forward profile for the new applications KPI in Annex A and the aged casework in Annex B and noted the comprehensive lender engagement activities and communications plans at Annex C and D.
- The board thanked the Head of Registration and Head of Customer Experience for the update and were supportive of this approach.
Corporate plan review and forward look
- The Accountable Officer and Chief Finance Officer provided an update on the Corporate Plan Review and Forward Look.
- The board noted delivery against our 5 KPIs and the latest spend position at end September 2020. It was noted that various government policy changes, such as on pensions, may be a driver in increased cost and the board agreed we should keep a record of that.
- The board questioned the level of spend reporting against travel as they didn’t expect to see a lot of travel expenses due to lockdown. The Chief Finance Officer agreed to look into the costs aligned to travel and report back.
Chief Finance Officer to look into travel costs for 2020 and report back to the board on what these are for.
- The board agreed the proposed change in strategy to deliver Land Register Completion and clearing of the arrear, as discussed earlier in the meeting, leading to amended KPIs for the remainder of the year.
- The board agreed the likely range of financial outturn for the year, noting that this is based on a range of assumptions on market activity (intakes) and productivity (despatches).
- The board agreed it would be helpful to see more detail at the Corporate Plan workshop in January regarding the links between the different types of spend, the strategic objective or statutory duty they are delivering and the level of discretionary spend available.
Chief Finance Officer to prepare a breakdown of types of spend aligned to the strategic objective or statutory duty they are delivering and the level of discretionary spend available in advance of the Corporate Plan workshop.
- The board agreed the proposed approach to the external update on 6-month Corporate Plan progress. It was agreed that there were too many moving parts to update on the financials externally at this stage and this would be reviewed further at the Corporate Plan workshop in January.
- The board thanked the Accountable Officer and Chief Finance Officer for the update and noted that we would keep NEDs updated on progress between now and January.
Fee review update
- The Business Development Director provided an update on the ongoing Fee Review. The board noted that a public consultation is currently live and due to close on 24 December 2020. The board welcomed this review and looked forward to being updated on the results of the consultation in due course.
- The board agreed it would be worth considering a more radical review of the fees when the timing is right, to ensure that what RoS charges specifically aligns to the cost of delivering individual products and provides relevant cost recovery.
- The board thanked the Business Development Director for the update.
Board observer feedback - end of day one
- The Business Development Director provided board observer feedback and highlighted that there had been some really interesting discussions throughout the day that had been met with good context, quality papers and great challenge.
- It was observed that some EMT members did more listening than contributing throughout the day and it was noted that they had contributed in detail throughout the EMT discussions to shape proposals and therefore, it felt appropriate to listen and allow board colleague views at this stage. It was also noted that there will be more opportunity for EMT contribution on day 2 of the meeting.
NED private discussion with the DGODO
- The Non-Executive Directors had a private discussion with the Director General for Organisational Development and Operations.
Key risk register update
- The Head of Risk and Information Governance and Enterprise Risk Manager joined the meeting and provided an update on the Key Risk Register and Risk Management Policy.
- The board noted the Key Risk Register and were broadly content with the Risk Management Policy, however, suggested that it could be updated to emphasise that everyone has a responsibility for risk within the organisation, not just managers. The board noted that the competency framework had been changed recently to ensure there was an awareness of risk across the business but agreed that there would be other opportunities to raise awareness. It was agreed that the risk and information governance team and communications teams should consider opportunities to raise awareness of risk and responsibilities.
Enterprise Risk Manager to update the Risk Management Policy to emphasise that everyone has a responsibility for risk and work with comms to consider how to raise awareness of this further.
- The board thanked the Head of Risk and Information Governance and Enterprise Risk Manager for the update and gave a particularly warm thanks to the Head of Risk and Information Governance for everything he has done during his time at RoS and wished him well for the future, as this marked his last board meeting before moving to a new external role.
- The Accountable Officer provided an update on Brexit. The board noted that Brexit is having minimal impact on RoS and progress is monitored regularly. The board were assured to hear that risks around data management, supply chain and foreign court judgements have been considered and are all in hand.
- The board noted that there are no concerns regarding lenders who aren’t based in the UK.
- The board thanked the Accountable Officer for the update.
Cyber resilience showcase
- The board welcomed the Head of IT Service and Security Architect to the meeting, who provided a showcase on RoS’s cyber resilience.
- The board were reassured to hear that RoS achieved cyber essentials certification in 2019 and are currently striving above that. It was also noted that penetration testing takes place with third parties, business continuity exercises are run regularly internally, and a cyber resilience recovery exercise was scheduled to take place soon.
- The ARC Chair highlighted that he would be keen to see penetration test results at ARC as other means of assurance and agreed to liaise with the ARC secretary to ensure these are reported to ARC when carried out.
ARC Secretary to work with the Head of IT Service to ensure Pen tests are reported to ARC as other means of assurance.
- The board thanked the Head of IT Service and Security Architect for the informative overview.
CSPS completion rate and big picture update
- The board were delighted to hear that RoS received a 10 percent increase in the Civil Service People Survey response rate this year, a total of 83 per cent, and commended RoS for driving up participation this much. The board looked forward to seeing and discussing the full results in due course.
- The board noted that the staff engagement ‘big picture’ sessions are due to commence in November and run through to December and the Non-Executive Directors were encouraged to attend one or more sessions. The board also noted that a video had been created to raise awareness of the revised COVID layout of Meadowbank House for those identified as essential workers and it was agreed that this should be shared with NEDs for interest.
Head of Secretariat to share the MBH COVID layout video with NEDs for interest.
Future board meeting proposal
- The board agreed the future board meeting proposal.
Papers for noting
- The board noted the Governance Risk Discussion Tracker.
- The board noted the EMT paper on transition to BAU and were pleased to note that RoS are increasingly becoming more transparent and agreed that there didn’t appear to be any reduction in quality of papers being written for the board in a transparent way.
- The board noted the Board Effectiveness Review Action Plan.
Board observer feedback
- The board observer advised that he didn’t have anything significant to add in addition to his day one feedback, however, commented that it would be helpful to circulate presentations to board members in advance of the meetings in future, as a backup in case there are any difficulties with technology when projecting.
- The Keeper thanked the board observer for his feedback across the two days.
Any other business
- No other business was discussed.
Date of next meeting
- The next board meeting will take place via Skype on 9 - 10 March 2021.