Regulator publishes report on statutory intervention at Fairfield Housing Association

Regulator publishes report on statutory intervention at Fairfield Housing Association

Helen Shaw

The Scottish Housing Regulator has today published its report on the outcome of its statutory intervention at Fairfield Housing Association.

The intervention began in November 2018 when the Regulator used its statutory powers to appoint a manager and seven members to Fairfield’s governing body in light of “address serious failures in the Association’s governance and financial management”.

The Regulator said it had earlier received allegations from a third party of “potentially serious misconduct and mismanagement” at Fairfield indicating a “potentially serious failure to comply with its regulatory standards”.

Fairfield’s governing body agreed to set up an investigation sub-committee and to commission an independent investigation into the allegations, although it was soon apparent that confidentiality may have been breached which gave the Regulator concerns that the “investigation and conflicts of interest were not being appropriately managed”.

The resulting investigation highlighted a number of areas of concern including:

  • the inappropriate receipt of payments and benefits;
  • systemic failures of governance amounting to mismanagement;
  • failure to establish and oversee an effective system of internal controls;
  • failure to exercise the necessary controls to allow it to determine whether it was complying with the Regulatory Standards;
  • widespread failures to comply with Fairfield’s policies, procedures, Financial Regulations and delegated authorities for spending;
  • poor procurement practices;
  • failures to manage conflicts of interest and to uphold the standards of conduct and good governance expected of Registered Social Landlords; and
  • the range of failures contributed to the potentially inappropriate use of Fairfield’s funds and resources.

Following the appointments, the manager and appointees identified further serious failures in tenant and resident safety, procurement and other areas of legal compliance.

Mags Lightbody was appointed as the first statutory manager, with Julia Fitzpatrick taking up the role from 2019. The statutory governing body appointees were:

  • Bob MacDougall (former chairperson, Muirhouse Housing Association)
  • Norman Fitzpatrick (deputy director, New Gorbals Housing Association)
  • Hazel Young (managing director, Dunedin Canmore Housing Association)
  • Ian McLean (chief executive, Bridgewater Housing Association)
  • John Davidson (director of customer services, Cairn Housing Association)
  • Margaret Vass (chairperson, Rural Stirling Housing Association)
  • Stuart Dow (director, Hillcrest Enterprises).

The Regulator ended its intervention in December 2021 following Fairfield’s decision to transfer its engagements to Kingdom Housing Association.

The Regulator removed Fairfield from the register of social landlords in March 2022.

Helen Shaw, director of regulation at the Regulator, said: “We use our statutory powers only when we need to protect the interests of tenants and service users. We intervened at Fairfield because we identified issues which presented a serious risk to the interests of its tenants and service users and Fairfield did not have the capacity to address these issues. 

“We are grateful to the statutory appointees for their support and commitment to help Fairfield address the serious and urgent weaknesses that led to our intervention whilst continuing to deliver services to tenants and other service users.

“We are sharing this report so that governing bodies can consider the points in it when carrying out their own regular self-assurance and assessment of compliance with the Regulatory Standards.”

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