Thistle Housing Association appeal into Regulator intervention dismissed

The Scottish Housing Regulator’s decision to appoint a manager and five members to the governing body of Thistle Housing Association has been upheld by an appeal panel.

The Regulator used its statutory powers to make the appointments in August this year after an independent review identified failures to meet regulatory standards of governance and financial management at the RSL.

Thistle then submitted an appeal against the intervention action last month.

An appeal panel, consisting of Scottish Housing Regulator Board members Mike Dailly and Lisa Peebles as well as an independent advisory member Joseph Hughes, considered the appeal and unanimously upheld the Regulator’s original decision.

The two parties had been engaging since November 2016 when a tenant’s representative raised concerns with the Regulator about two gas leaks following the implementation of a contract with E.ON. This engagement continued throughout 2016 and 2017.

In May 2017, Thistle commissioned an independent review of its compliance with the regulatory standards of governance and financial management, which, when completed in March 2018, identified widespread compliance failures across all six standards.

In its assessment of the review, the Regulator concluded that Thistle was not compliant with the Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management and that the governing body was unable to demonstrate that it has the skills and knowledge required to be effective.

The Regulator also considered that Thistle was failing to meet outcome two of the Scottish Social Housing Charter.

While the governing body at Thistle accepted the findings from the review and agreed an extensive and ambitious governance improvement programme to address its recommendations, the Regulator concluded that delivering the change needed at Thistle required strong leadership and expertise. It then used it statutory powers to make the six appointments.

In considering the appeal, the panel concluded that Thistle “did require support to deliver appropriate leadership and management control, direction and oversight to assure that the intended changes and culture, management and leadership were implemented and embedded in a sustainable manner, and without further delay”.

The panel considered on the evidence presented that it was reasonable for the Regulator to determine that Thistle’s proposals would not achieve the level of directed external support necessary in all the circumstances.

The appeal panel considered that it was “reasonable and necessary” for statutory intervention to be taken in August 2018 in order to protect and safeguard the interest of Thistle’s tenants and other service users.

Having regard to Thistle’s non-compliance across all six standards, and eleven indicators of failure to achieve Outcome 2 of the Scottish Social Housing Charter, the panel concluded that the Regulator’s decision to take statutory intervention was “fair, reasonable, necessary and proportionate”.

Thistle Housing Association was approached for comment by Scottish Housing News but was unable to provide a response at this stage.

A summary of the case is available here.

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