Governance meltdown at housing association


Organisation faces big challenges as another board member resigns 

14th July 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A troubled housing association is facing a governance meltdown after one of only two remaining original members of its board resigned.

Brenda Wilson has stepped down from the board of Thistle Housing Association saying she is uncomfortable at the amount of money spent on independent consultants. 

The housing watchdog was forced to step in to support Thistle when a number of serious failures was uncovered.

Almost two years following the Scottish Housing Regulator's intervention, the association is now in the process of being taken over by Sanctuary Scotland.

Her resignation letter says: "I have always supported the need for strong regulation within housing.

"Obviously things needed to be put right at Thistle, and you know there will be a cost to that.

"But watching half a million pounds of tenants’ rent go out the door to all kinds of consultants has been hard to take when there still seems no end to the whole process, even as we prepare to be taken over by another Association. "

Thistle Housing Association and the Scottish Housing Regulator declined to comment directly on Wilson's comments.

The watchdog referred to its current published engagement plan while Thistle provided a copy of a letter being sent to all tenants today.

The letter details the latest information concerning the change of landlord from Thistle to Sanctuary Scotland.

All going to plan, the communication says, the transfer should take place on or around February 1 2021.

A business case must first be agreed by all parties involved then a stage one formal consultation with Thistle tenants will happen in September.

If that consultation is positive, the independent ballot of Thistle tenants will run over October and November.

The most recent engagement plan, previously detailed in the Glasgow Times, lists yet more failings from Thistle, listing "serious and widespread failures" relating to the governance of a major works programme in conjucton with energy giant E-on; communication and complaints handling between the organisation and tenants; financial mismanagement; issues with health and safety; and failure to provide accurate information to the regulator.

The housing regulator previously parachuted in support to try to turn around the ailing social landlord.

Thistle's governing body is now made up of 12 members; four elected members and eight appointees.

The housing association also appointed a new chair following the AGM in September 2019.

In its letter to residents, Thistle sets out the results of a recent tenant and factored owners focus group.

It says: "Concern was raised about a lack of trust between Thistle and local residents, specifically around problems with the E.ON contract.

"The need for more transparency was highlighted."