TPAS Cymru response to PAC Inquiry
The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly for Wales has today (2 August 2017) published its report following the Inquiry into Regulatory oversight of Housing Associations. The report provides a range of recommendations aimed at strengthening the regulation of HAs in Wales.
TPAS Cymru welcomes the recommendations made in the report. We welcome, in particular, the report’s recommendations to increase openness and transparency within the sector in Wales. We believe that this will further enable and encourage tenants and stakeholders to hold their landlords to account. Our organisation believes that it is vital that both the Welsh Government and housing associations in Wales ensure that all relevant information is made easily accessible for all tenants in Wales. To this end, we particularly welcome the report’s recommendation that the Welsh Government should adopt a similar approach to the one used by the Scottish Regulator where clear and comparable datasets are made publicly available.
Whilst supporting the Committee’s recommendation to boost transparency, TPAS Cymru also agrees with the Public Accounts Committee that there’s a difference between transparency and scrutiny. TPAS Cymru supports the report’s calls to ensure that there is adequate tenant scrutiny of the performance of housing associations. We believe that the new “Performance Standards” published by the Welsh Government goes some way towards achieving this aim, in particular “Performance Standard 2 - Effective and appropriate tenant involvement and high quality and improving landlord services”. TPAS Cymru will continue to work closely with the Welsh Government, tenants and social landlords in Wales to ensure that tenants can effectively scrutinise the performance of their housing association.
TPAS Cymru also agrees with the report’s findings that there is a need for housing associations in Wales to ensure that they strike a careful balance when seeking diversification opportunities. Whilst we recognise that there is a need for housing associations in Wales to seek new revenue streams, TPAS Cymru believe that it is important that social landlords continue to ensure that the services that they provide for their existing tenants and service users are of the highest standard. TPAS Cymru also support the Committee’s recommendation that a review should be undertaken into the current levels of diversification within the sector. We believe that such a review would promote further transparency throughout the sector and would provide an opportunity to share information and best practice.
Another recommendation made in the report is that “any deregulation of the sector necessary to reverse the ONS decision is proportionate and ensures the Welsh Government, as Regulator, still has sufficient powers to protect the interests of stakeholders, in particular tenants.” We at TPAS Cymru support the Committee in making this recommendation.
TPAS Cymru also shares the Committee’s support for the forthcoming review of governance within the social housing sector. We are delighted that our Participation Officer, Steffan Evans has been selected to be on the review team alongside one of our Board members, Bill Hunt, a tenant of Cartrefi Conwy. TPAS Cymru will work to ensure that the voice of tenants is represented in any debate around the introduction of board remuneration. We believe that any move to introduce Board payment should be linked to a rise in quality of the performance of the Board more generally.
We at TPAS Cymru will continue to work closely with the WG, RBW on feeding in the ‘tenant voice’ on regulatory matters and tenant opinion. Our work in this area is currently kept under regular review by the ‘Making it Work Group’ led by the Chair of the RBW, and we believe that we are already acting in accordance with the recommendation made by the Committee. If you are a tenant in Wales who wants to have their voice heard by those who matter then we strongly recommend that you join our Tenant Pulse Community.
The full 41 page report can be read here. TPAS Cymru will be arranging briefing sessions for tenants and officers to review in more detail and discuss what it means for tenant participation and tenant voice in regulation