Resignation calls at troubled housing association


​Wishaw and District Housing Association has failed to address systemic problems 

8th March 2018 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

A chair and chief executive of a housing association are facing calls to resign after reigning over a two-year long governance fiasco.

In a damming report, the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) announced this week it was to continue intervention for the next six months because of failed leadership at Wishaw and District Housing Association (WDHA).

Since 2016 the troubled association has failed to address systematic governance problems, despite the regulator installing a manager as well as board members in a bid to tackle its problems.

The regulator said it was taking the action as “there remain serious weaknesses and risks in relation to its governance and leadership capacity and sustainability.”

It added: “Wishaw and District has been unable to assure us that it is able to address these risks and that it has the capacity to comply with the regulatory standards without the continued support of a manager and the appointees,” it said in its report.

Brenda Higgins

Brenda Higgins

It has also imposed an internal review on the body in a final bid to address “endemic weaknesses” in its governance.

WDHA owns and manages 1,030 homes and provides factoring services to 370 owners across Wishaw and the surrounding communities in North Lanarkshire. Its turnover last year was around £4.76 million.

Problems initially stem from seven years ago after the association bought a derelict site earmarked for social housing near Wishaw Main Street.

Since then the association has spent £2.3m on the site despite it remaining derelict and becoming a local eyesore.

In a letter to stakeholders, chair Brenda Higgins failed to address the issues, claiming tenant satisfaction was high despite the regulator having to force a state of “high engagement” on the association.

Asked by TFN whether she or chief executive Niall Gordon took responsibility for the ongoing problems, Higgins would only say: “The board recognises there are still improvements to be made and that a strategic review is required to assess the best solution for the tenants and other service users. 

“I am pleased that the regulator has acknowledged the strength of our customer service and the high levels of tenant satisfaction.”  

However one tenant from the town’s Pather area responded on Twitter: “High tenant satisfaction? Not this one. You’ve wasted our rent on a vanity project and should resign.”

And on Facebook tenant Marie Craig said the town deserved better. “WDHA has just gone from bad to worse. Yet tenant satisfaction is high. How does that work?”

Local MSP Clare Adamson refused to comment on the problems while the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator said it was liaising with SHR. 

Update: after this piece was published Clare Adamson offered the following statement: “I continue to take a very close interest in WDHA and I have written to the regulator asking for a full update and a meeting.”

10th March 2018 by Clare Adamson

I did not refuse to comment I said I would be writing to the regulator for an update on the situation before commenting. Of course I Am concerned for my constituent affected by this and the derelict old tesco site in my constituency and have commented previously on these concerns.

27th March 2018 by Tommy Lusk

Satisfaction surveys and social charter scores regularly show very high percentages which are duly trumpeted by housing associations and The matter what the reality is on the ground. Look at Ferguslie Park HA's stats or Bellsmyre HA's stats when they were experiencing problems and you may be surprised by how high they are........It's an area that need loking into.