Argyll Community Housing Association urged to carry out independent governance review

ACHAArgyll Community Housing Association (ACHA) is to commission an independent review of its governance after the Scottish Housing Regulator identified weaknesses in its performance.

An updated regulation plan was published this week following an inquiry to investigate matters of concern in relation to ACHA’s governance which were raised with the regulator and to obtain assurance that ACHA has the governance systems in place to ensure effective control by its board.

While the plan does not provide any detail on the exact nature of the issues, the investigation found evidence to substantiate the concerns and a full independent inquiry was requested.

ACHA chairman, Mike Brown, told Scottish Housing News the association is happy to carry out the review and are “committed to implementing any recommendations”.

The housing association is considered ‘systemically important’ by the regulator due to its stock size, turnover, size of debt and geographic importance therefore additional assurances are sought to ensure it is being operated well.

The regulator’s investigation found that ACHA’s progress during 2014/15 with bringing properties up to the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) was greater than planned and it projected achieving SHQS in advance of the required date. However, its performance for a number of tenant satisfaction indicators was poor.

ACHA has agreed an action plan to address the issues highlighted in its satisfaction survey. Because satisfaction levels were lower amongst 16 to 34 year old tenants ACHA is working with this group to ensure its communication strategy is effective. It has also run two tenant scrutiny events with TPAS and this has increased tenant numbers interested in joining the “Your Voice” group.

Although the average time to complete repairs (emergency and non-emergency) is poor, ACHA is in the top quartile for the percentage of repairs carried out right first time and tenant satisfaction with repairs is high at almost 97 per cent. ACHA is ranked 21st for satisfaction with repairs when compared to all RSLs. This coupled with tenants’ ability to book a repair appointment for a time that suits them may contribute to the high satisfaction level.

The report concluded that the regulator will have medium engagement with ACHA in 2015/16.

ACHA chairman, Mike Brown, said: “ACHA believes we have robust governance systems in place and carry out a review every two years. The Association is happy to carry out an independent governance review as suggested by the Scottish Housing Regulator and are committed to implementing any recommendations which add to what we already have. ACHA will appoint an appropriately experienced organisation through our normal procurement procedures in the near future.”

ACHA was registered and took ownership of properties from Argyll and Bute Council in November 2006. It has charitable status, owns 5,111 houses and factors a further 204. It employs 166 full time equivalent staff and its turnover at 31 March 2014 was just over £19.7 million. It has one unregistered subsidiary, Argyll Homes for All (AHFA) which delivers the majority of ACHA’s responsive and cyclical maintenance under contract to ACHA. It also manages ACHA’s non-charitable business services.

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