Milnbank director hits back at Regulator

Alan Benson, the director of Milnbank Housing Association, has criticised the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) for failing to engage with the Association and publishing an engagement plan which he said does not accurately reflect the Association’s regulatory status.

Milnbank director hits back at Regulator

Describing the episode as a manifestation of issues highlighted in a Scottish Housing News editorial, Mr Benson said the Regulator did not examine evidence gathered by an independent consultant regarding governance issues at Milnbank before drawing its conclusions.

The engagement plan in question followed an independent comprehensive review commissioned by Milnbank into its compliance with the regulatory standards of governance and financial management. According to the engagement plan, the review concluded that while the Association complies with regulatory standards, it did not provide adequate evidence or assurance to support this conclusion.

Highlighting its concerns, the Regulator said the review therefore did not provide it with assurance that Milnbank has achieved compliance with regulatory standards.

After contacting Milnbank Housing Association for a response to the engagement plan, Scottish Housing News was told that the plan was published against Milnbank’s wishes.

Alan Benson said: “Milnbank Housing Association asked the Regulator not to publish the engagement plan until we had an opportunity to fully highlight our concerns over the engagement plan as currently drafted. We believe the engagement plan does not accurately reflect our regulatory status.

“It is worth noting that SHR stated in a previous regulation plan ‘we will engage with Milnbank as it progresses an independent review against regulatory standards and we will meet the governing body to discuss findings and agree improvements as necessary’. No such meeting has taken place, nor have the sources of evidence gathered by the independent consultant been examined by SHR nor has SHR requested a meeting with the consultant to discuss their findings.

“Despite this, SHR has drawn a conclusion that the review did not provide them with adequate evidence or give them assurance that we comply with regulatory standards.”

Mr Benson added: “On 8 January 2020, Scottish Housing News published an editorial about SHR and its relationship with regulated bodies. Milnbank Housing Association’s revised engagement plan is, we believe, a manifestation of the issues highlighted in the editorial.

“In the first instance, we are requesting a review of the engagement plan as published.”

In the engagement plan, the Regulator said Milnbank has developed a governance and financial management review action plan which addresses the governance and financial management issues where improvement is needed.

The Regulator said: “Milnbank has advised it is working through its action plan and has sent us updates on its progress. We will engage with Milnbank to seek assurance that it fully delivers the improvements identified in its action plan.”

The Regulator said it has also reviewed Milnbank’s approach to gathering the tenant satisfaction information that is reported in the Annual Return on the Charter. It found that Milnbank’s approach did not follow good practice and the Regulator is concerned as to the reliability of the information reported.

The Regulator added: “Milnbank is carrying out an independent satisfaction survey and we will liaise further in relation to this.”

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