Why we are engaging with Bridgewater Housing Association (Bridgewater)
We are engaging with Bridgewater about tenant and resident safety.
In May 2023, Bridgewater notified us as part of its Annual Return on the Charter (ARC) that on a number of occasions it had failed to meet its statutory obligation to complete a gas safety check. This followed a change of contractor used to carry out gas safety checks in November 2022, and Bridgewater became aware of the issue at the end of March 2023. We subsequently engaged with Bridgewater to seek assurance about the steps it was taking to ensure that it was complying with its statutory obligations.
In July 2023, Bridgewater shared with us an internal report which carried out a broader review of its compliance with its tenant and resident safety obligations, including gas, electrical, fire, legionella, asbestos management, lift safety and its approach to mould and damp. It identified a number of material weaknesses relating to some of its policies and procedures. It also identified the need to obtain an independent review of its tenant and resident safety compliance.
Bridgewater further sought to make improvements in its overall approach to governance and to its self-assurance processes. It commissioned an independent review of its governance that was reported to the Board and shared with us in September 2023.
In October 2023 and in light of this engagement, we decided to put Bridgewater’s regulatory status under review. We required Bridgewater to provide monthly updates on the steps it was taking to address the tenant and resident safety issues and to provide us with a copy of the remit for the independent tenant safety audit. We further required Bridgewater to provide us with assurance that it was making any necessary improvements in its overall approach to governance following the outcomes of the independent review. These requirements were to enable us to complete our review.
Bridgewater submitted its 2023 Annual Assurance Statement in October 2023 which stated non-compliance with some tenant and resident safety obligations. Bridgewater also set out its plans to address this.
Bridgewater took immediate steps to address the issues in its approach to gas safety by implementing changes to its policies and procedures, and informed us that all remaining gas safety checks were now complete. It also progressed a number of actions to make improvements across other tenant and resident safety obligations, including the drafting and approval of electrical and fire safety policies with work ongoing in relation to other areas of tenant and resident safety.
Bridgewater has commissioned an independent consultant to review its approach on tenant and resident safety, and to report on its compliance with tenant and resident safety obligations. This review will commence in January 2024 with key areas of tenant and resident safety reviewed by April 2024.
Bridgewater provided assurance it is addressing the findings of the independent governance review.
We have now completed our review of Bridgewater’s regulatory status and have concluded that it is not compliant with regulatory requirements and the Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management (Regulatory Standards) in particular Regulatory Standard 1.3 relating to compliance with its legal obligations. This is due to material weaknesses in Bridgewater’s approach to tenant and resident safety and we require further assurance following the independent review of its compliance with its tenant and resident safety obligations.
Bridgewater continues to engage with us openly and constructively.
The Housing (Scotland) Act (2010) requires us to monitor and assess the financial well-being, governance and performance of each Registered Social Landlord (RSL).
Our current assessment is that Bridgewater is working towards compliance with regulatory requirements and the Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management. We set out below the information that Bridgewater must provide in order to assure us that it can achieve compliance.
What Bridgewater must do
- set out how it plans to ensure compliance with its tenant and resident safety obligations by April 2024;
- provide us with monthly updates on its progress with implementing its improvement actions to ensure compliance with its tenant and resident safety obligations and on progress with the independent tenant safety review;
- provide us with a copy of the outcome report(s) following completion of the independent tenant safety review by April 2024 and any actions it requires to take to address the findings from this review; and
- inform us when it considers itself to be compliant with its tenant and resident safety obligations and provide us with the assurance we require to confirm this.
What we will do
- review Bridgewater’s updates on progress with implementing improvements to tenant and resident safety and on progress with the independent tenant safety review and engage as necessary;
- review the outcome report(s) following the independent tenant safety review and Bridgewater’s plans to address any findings from this and engage as necessary;
- review our regulatory strategy in the light of this; and
- update our published engagement plan in the light of any material change to our planned engagement with Bridgewater.
Bridgewater must provide us with the following annual regulatory returns and alert us to notifiable events as appropriate:
- Annual Assurance Statement;
- audited financial statements and external auditor’s management letter;
- loan portfolio return;
- five year financial projections; and
- Annual Return on the Charter.
It should also notify us of any material changes to its Annual Assurance Statement, and any tenant and resident safety matter which has been reported to or is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive or reports from regulatory or statutory authorities or insurance providers, relating to safety concerns.