Regulator intervention to continue as Thistle accepts concerns
The Scottish Housing Regulator’s intervention at Thistle Housing Association is to continue with the governing body now willing to work alongside the statutory appointments to address its governance non-compliance.
The Regulator used its statutory powers to appoint a manager and five appointees to the board at Thistle in August last year after an independent review identified failures to meet regulatory standards of governance and financial management at the RSL.
The manager’s remit was to address failings identified in a governance review conducted by Thistle Housing Association in March 2018, to oversee delivery of the governance improvement programme and embed sustainable change in the organisation.
The appointees were to lead on and prioritise supporting the governing body to ensure that Thistle complies with the regulatory standards of governance and financial management and outcome two of the Scottish Social Housing Charter, as well as supporting the manager and the governing body to carry out a review to identify the best strategic solutions for Thistle’s tenants and service users.
Thistle appealed against the Regulator’s use of statutory powers in November, though the decision was upheld by an Appeal Panel the following month.
The Regulator said Thistle’s governing body “has only recently accepted” its concerns about its governance and leadership capacity, and is “now starting to work more effectively with the appointed manager and the appointed governing body members”.
An updated engagement plan for Thistle added: “As a consequence, Thistle has not demonstrated sufficient evidence of change and progress in addressing the underlying issues behind its failure to comply with Regulatory Standards. Thistle provided us with a plan to strengthen its capacity to enable it to make the necessary improvements. This includes carrying out an independent skills assessment and appraisal of the governing body and reviewing its staff structure.
“Thistle has now identified defects in the some of the investment works it carried out to its houses during 2016/18. It has carried out some remedial work and has appointed a contractor to do further work. It will commission an independent surveyor to establish whether there are any further potential issues in relation to the quality of the work and it will carry out further investigations into two recent incidents involving falling roof tiles. We have asked Thistle as an immediate priority to identify whether there are any potential tenant and resident safety issues.
“We have identified areas where we require additional information from Thistle about its recent stock condition survey (October 2018) and the accuracy of its reported compliance with the Scottish Quality Housing Standard.”
The Regulator said Thistle commissioned an independent survey of tenants and service users in March 2019 which showed a “significant deterioration in satisfaction with the repairs and maintenance service, the quality of homes, whether rent represents value for money, the management of the neighbourhood and the factoring service”.
“We require Thistle to substantially increase the pace and scale of change as it works towards compliance with Regulatory Standards,” it added.
The manager and five governing body appointees have been extended until 31st October 2019, by which Thistle must demonstrate that it has made significant progress in working towards compliance with the Standards and achieving outcome two of the Charter.