Regulator takes statutory action at Thistle Housing Association

The Scottish Housing Regulator has used its statutory powers to appoint a manager to Thistle Housing Association after an independent review identified failures to meet regulatory standards of governance and financial management.

Five statutory appointments have also been made to the Association’s management committee.

During 2017/18, the Regulator engaged with Thistle around serious delays and difficulties in managing a substantial contract, its governance capacity, risk management and its communications with service users and stakeholders. It also engaged around weaknesses in Thistle’s approach to complaints handling.

In October 2017 Thistle commissioned an independent review of its compliance with the Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management. The review, completed in March 2018, identified widespread compliance failures across all six standards.

In its regulation plan for the Association the Regulator said its assessment is that Thistle is not compliant with the Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management. In particular, the review found that the governing body was unable to demonstrate that it has the skills and knowledge required to be effective (standard 6) and that there were serious weaknesses in Thistle’s openness and communications with its tenants and service users (standard 2).

With Thistle’s non-compliance with Regulatory Standard 2 and its failure to engage effectively with stakeholders, the Regulator considered that Thistle is also failing to meet outcome two of the Scottish Social Housing Charter.

The governing body has accepted the findings from the review and has agreed an extensive and ambitious Governance Improvement Programme to address the review recommendations and to bring about transformational change in the organisation. It has commissioned independent consultants to support it to deliver aspects of the programme over the next 12 months.

However, the Regulator has concluded that delivering the change needed at Thistle requires strong leadership and expertise.

It said: “In our previous engagement Thistle has not always delivered, or been very slow to deliver, agreed actions. It has been unable to assure us that it has the governance and leadership capacity necessary to achieve compliance with the Regulatory Standards and outcome two Regulation Plan 23 August 2018 Thistle Housing Association Ltd of the Scottish Social Housing Charter in relation to its communication with its tenants and service users without expert support.”

Ian Brennan, director of regulation, said: “Thistle has recognised the need to change in order to comply with regulatory standards. Our intervention will support that change so that tenants and service users have the benefit of a fully compliant Registered Social Landlord.”

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