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02 August 2017

Community Housing Cymru welcomes report by Public Accounts Committee

Findings from a nine month inquiry into the regulatory oversight of housing associations in Wales have today been published; concluding regulatory change in the sector has been a ‘step in the right direction’ in generating greater transparency and openness.

Led by the National Assembly for Wales’ Public Accounts Committee, the report states recent regulatory changes, including the launch of the new regulatory judgement and a revised regulatory framework on new performance standards, has been a positive move for the sector.

The inquiry took evidence from Community Housing Cymru, Welsh housing associations, tenants groups and lenders, and also recommends how regulation can be further improved, including:

  • increasing publicly available data on housing associations’ performance
  • reviewing the benefits and risks of diversification
  • enabling housing associations to pay their board members and report this in an open and transparent way

The committee also made a number of recommendations for the Welsh Government and the Regulatory Board for Wales, including suggesting regulatory teams could be recruited from outside the civil service.

Responding to the report, Clarissa Corbisiero-Peters, Deputy Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said:

“We welcome the publication of today’s report by the Public Accounts Committee, which follows a robust and lengthy inquiry into the regulation of housing associations in Wales. The report recognises the vital role housing associations play in tackling the housing crisis, and concludes that the new regulatory framework is a step in the right direction to make housing association regulation more open, transparent and accessible.

“The report recognises the increasingly diverse work of housing associations, including the provision of support services, and the building of homes for first time buyers and student accommodation. As independent social businesses, this diversification allows housing associations in Wales to generate further investment, which makes the public money we receive go further and allows us to continue to focus on our core purpose of providing affordable homes.

“We also recognise the challenge highlighted to housing associations in the report, particularly with regards to improving transparency and accessibility of information for tenants, and we will work closely with Welsh Government to build on examples of good practice and take forwards these recommendations so communities have access to meaningful and timely information and data.

“We are pleased that the committee has recognised the importance of CHC’s Code of Governance in ensuring the quality of governance in the sector remains high. We will be working closely with our members to strengthen and review the Code over the coming months to ensure it remains robust, and to engage fully in the Regulatory Board’s review of governance.

"As independent organisations, it is right that housing associations are allowed to consider whether to pay board members, and we support the committee in this recommendation. The report also recommends allowing the regulator to recruit externally, so those with the strongest and most appropriate skills can be hired, and we urge the Welsh Government to respond positively to this recommendation which will help improve the governance and regulation of the sector.

Notes to Editors

  • Housing associations own and manage 158,000 homes across Wales
  • In 2015/16 housing associations provided an additional 2,322 affordable homes across Wales.
  • Since 2008, they have provided a total of 17,864 additional affordable homes; 29% of those (5229 homes) have been provided without Social Housing Grant
  • In 2015/16, Welsh housing associations directly spent £1.05bn, and contributed £1.97bn to the economy – with 89% remaining in Wales
  • Housing associations in Wales directly employ 9,109 full-time equivalents, and support more than 23,000 full-time equivalent jobs across Wales.

Community Housing Cymru Deputy CEO, Clarissa Corbisiero-Peters is available for interview