Why we are engaging with Bridgewater Housing Association (Bridgewater)
We are engaging with Bridgewater about its governance and tenant and resident safety.
In May 2023, Bridgewater informed us of a number of gas safety fails in its Annual Return on the Charter (ARC). Bridgewater was unaware of the issue until the end of March 2023 following a change of contractor in November 2022 and it did not submit a Notifiable Event to us about this. We subsequently engaged with Bridgewater on this matter and its compliance with our regulatory guidance on notifiable events. Through our engagement, we later identified an error in the information provided to us and had to seek additional assurance on the completion of any remaining gas safety checks. Bridgewater has informed us that all remaining gas safety checks have now been completed.
In July 2023, Bridgewater shared with us an internal report on a broader review of its compliance with tenant and resident safety duties, including gas, electrical, fire, legionella, asbestos management, lift safety and its approach to mould and damp. It identified a number of weaknesses relating to its policies and procedures. It has also identified the need to obtain an independent review of its tenant and resident safety compliance.
Bridgewater has taken immediate steps to address the issues in its approach to gas safety by implementing changes to its policies and procedures. It is also progressing a number of actions to make improvements across its other tenant and resident safety duties.
Bridgewater is seeking to make improvements in its overall approach to governance and to its self-assurance processes. It also commissioned an independent review of its governance that was reported to the Board and shared with us in September 2023.
We are continuing to seek assurance from Bridgewater regarding its compliance with our Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management and its tenant and resident safety duties. We are also seeking assurance in respect of its governance arrangements relating to its policies, systems and processes, and self-assurance. Bridgewater is engaging with us openly and constructively.
What Bridgewater must do
In order to allow us to complete our review of its regulatory status Bridgewater must:
- update us on progress with commissioning an independent review of its compliance with tenant and resident safety duties and share the proposed remit and final report with us;
- provide monthly updates from October 2023 on progress with implementing its improvement actions regarding its tenant and resident safety duties;
- provide us with a copy of the action plan and timeline in response to the recommendations of the independent review of its governance; and
- provide us with the further information and assurance we require about the steps it is taking to strengthen its governance and self-assurance processes.
Bridgewater must also
- by 31 October 2023, submit its Annual Assurance Statement and include information on compliance with tenant and resident safety duties in accordance with our published guidance; and
- share with us the evidence that the governing body has used to assure itself on its compliance with tenant and resident safety duties.
What we will do
- review Bridgewater’s plans to commission an independent review of its compliance with tenant and resident safety duties and engage as necessary;
- review the updates on progress with implementing improvements to tenant and resident safety and engage as necessary;
- review the independent report on governance along with the action plan and timeline and provide feedback;
- review the information and assurance we receive regarding Bridgewater’s approach to governance and self-assurance and engage as necessary;
- review the Annual Assurance Statement and engage as necessary;
- review our regulatory strategy in the light of this; and
- update Bridgewater’s regulatory status when we have completed our inquiries.
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.