Industry news

Voluntary Right to Buy pilot for HAs launched

residents were only given one month to register their interest. Tenants were given until 16 September to apply


for a place in a ballot with those who are successful then given until Spring 2020 to complete the purchase of their home. The Treasury is providing £200m to pay for

discounts on the sale prices and with expectations high that the pilot scheme will be oversubscribed, the idea for the ballot emerged. A Government spokesman said this would “ensure fairness and

pilot of the controversial scheme to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants was launched in the Midlands but

manage interest within the funding available”. No decision on whether to proceed with a full-

scale scheme to allow HA tenants to buy their homes or a suitable equivalent at a discount, will take place before 2020 at the earliest. A key part of the Midlands pilot will be testing the concept of portability, where tenants are able to transfer their RTB discount to buy another HA property if the one they live in is exempt.

HOME OWNERSHIP DREAM Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: “Our £200m investment into the Midlands voluntary Right to Buy pilot is the first step in helping housing

association tenants to realise their dream of home ownership.” The National Housing Federation received

considerable criticism for helping to shape the Midlands pilot scheme. Controversy was further fuelled by the Government’s plans to fund the expansion of the RTB scheme by forcing councils into selling their most valuable homes and then handing over the receipts. Plans to get councils to replace RTB sold properties on a like-for-like basis have spectacularly failed to deliver new homes. Chief Executive of the National Housing

Federation David Orr said: “Over the past three years, we have worked closely with the Government on its proposal to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants. Of course, this pilot is not the finished product. We want to take the time to get this major endeavour right. “It will be a success for everyone involved only if

every home that is sold is replaced with a new affordable home, and if the application process is as smooth as possible for tenants.”

Scottish regulator acts over governance failures

The Scottish housing regulator has intervened in the running of two housing associations after its investigations found serious governance failures. The regulator has told Wishaw & District

Housing Association it needs to find another landlord prepared to merge with it. This follows a review by an appointed manager David Jepson, who “concluded the option to merge with another HA would provide the best opportunity for Wishaw & District to meet its strategic objectives.” The association is now seeking expressions of

interest from landlords and Mr Jepson will stay for a further year to oversee the process. The regulator is

also increasing the number of its appointees on the governing body to seven. The HA owns and manages just over 1,000

homes and employs around 22 people. Its problems stemmed from a site it bought for £1m in 2010 but which it has failed to progress plans for and to develop the site. An options appraisal in 2016 revealed

“serious risks” with the development and a subsequent investigation revealed “serious governance failures”, “significant weaknesses in risk management” and “serious financial risks” as a result of buying the site.

The regulator has also intervened at

Glasgow based Thistle Housing Association, which owns 950 homes, where it has appointed a manager and five members to the group’s management committee. The regulator said it acted to safeguard tenants’

interests after an independent review identified failures to meet regulatory standards of governance and financial management. The HA was also failing to meet the Scottish

Social Housing Charter in relation to communications standards with tenants and other customers, the regulator said. | HMM September 2018 | 19

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