Regulator forced to take over troubled housing association

Gavel

Weakness in Wishaw and District Housing Association's management force regulator to step in 

9th February 2017 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

A troubled housing association has been forced to hand over management to the Scottish Housing Regulator after endemic failures in its governance.  

It follows a damning independent review into the way Wishaw and District Housing Association was being run.

The regulator said serious weaknesses in the organisation’s governance, risk management and financial planning posed a serious risk to tenants’ interests. 

It said it was using its right to impose statutory appointments to ensure the association has the right skills and expertise to tackle “serious weaknesses”.

The association has had an ongoing squabble regarding a site it acquired in 2010 in the town’s Main Street. 

According to the regulator it failed to progress or agree with partners the development of the site which many locals have complained is an eyesore – and which has so far cost £2.3 million.

The regulator’s report stated: “As a result of this Wishaw and District invested £1.3m of its own resources, and £1m of public subsidy, in a project which has delivered no good outcomes to Wishaw and District or the general public.

“There is potential for further loss and risk to tenants’ interests if the future of the site is not managed appropriately.”

We do not believe Wishaw & District has the capacity to tackle its serious problems

Now the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) has used statutory powers to appoint a manager and five governing body members to the organisation.   

Christine Macleod, director of regulation at the SHR, said: “There has been poor decision making and weak management of risk which have already cost the organisation. We consider that Wishaw and District’s poor governance and the financial risks it faces pose significant risk to tenants’ interests, to public and private funders’ confidence and to the reputation of registered social landlords.  

“We do not believe Wishaw & District has the capacity to tackle its serious problems. In these circumstances, statutory intervention is the most appropriate response to protect tenants’ interests.” 

Last week staff won a long-fought battle with bosses at the association over proposals to increase working hours and cut back on holiday entitlement.

Staff also took strike action on two separate occasions last year in protests at changes to their conditions of employment.   

Wishaw and District owns and manages 1,030 homes and provides factoring services to 370 owners across Wishaw and the surrounding communities in the North Lanarkshire local authority area.

It is a registered charity and employs around 22 people. Wishaw and District’s turnover at the end of March 2016 was around £4.76m.

TFN has asked the association’s chief executive for comment.

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