Regulator charts ‘considerable’ Langstane progress in new engagement plan

Regulator charts 'considerable' Langstane progress in new engagement plan

James Knowles

Langstane Housing Association has progressed a “substantial programme of improvement” to ensure compliance with regulatory standards, a new engagement plan has revealed.

The Scottish Housing Regulator has been engaging with Langstane over the last two years as it addressed weaknesses in its approach to financial management and control and its governance. In a revised engagement plan for Langstane published this month, the Regulator has praised the RSL’s open engagement and constructive work to ensure that improvements are evidenced and embedded in normal working practices.

The Regulator said: “During 2019/20 we reviewed Langstane’s financial returns, 30-year projections with sensitivities and business plan in order to gain assurance on its financial health. We will seek further assurance on this during 2020/21.

“It has put in place measures to deal with its short term funding requirements and has developed a sustainable medium and long term treasury strategy that is consistent with its revised business plan. It arranged interim financial planning and management support and ongoing treasury advice and recruited a new director of finance & corporate services.”

As part of its 2019 Annual Assurance Statement, Langstane reported it was working towards compliance to achieve Regulatory Standards 1, 3 and 4. It identified further work on the business plan to ensure stronger links were in place between its financial plans for the future, its strategic risk register and the aspirations of its customers. It also identified a need to have stronger links to its budget and performance setting processes to ensure delivery of key objectives.

The Regulator said Langstane has now developed a revised business plan which addresses the above points.

The engagement plan said: “In addition, it commissioned an executive consultancy resource to support the delivery of the recovery strategy and business plan objectives including the delivery of an efficiencies agenda, the development of a robust performance culture and a modernisation programme for its business. This work is now well advanced and Langstane’s focus is now on ongoing business improvement.”

Langstane commissioned a review late last year to review its compliance with regulatory standard 3 and a detailed examination of its 30-year business plan.

The review found that a significant amount of work has been progressed during 2019 to address the issues of cash-flow and inadequate financial controls. It concluded that there was evidence that Langstane had put in place measures to comply with standard 3 and was now compliant in four out of seven elements.

In relation to the remaining 3 elements, the review concluded that a number of processes and policies had only recently been put in place or updated to strengthen them, these still required to be fully embedded into the organisation’s operations and culture to ensure full compliance with standard 3.

Welcoming the engagement plan, Langstane chair James Knowles told Scottish Housing News: “Langstane has worked closely with the Scottish Housing Regulator over the last two years to address, in particular, historical weaknesses in our approach to financial management and control.

“We are pleased our hard work has been recognised within our latest engagement plan and we look forward to the continued benefits our revised practices bring us in the future. As highlighted within the plan, the Association continues on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure we provide the best possible service to our tenants and other customers, and that we are as effective and efficient as we can be.”

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