From Bill Gill, BG Audit & Consultancy & Mark Hobart, Managing Director, Clearview Systems.
The BG Audit and Clearview Systems report is available from www.clearviewbusiness.com
Sir – Housing regulation is now clearly focused on risk, assurance and governance. The crucial juggling act is for organisations to remain financially viable while taking on more risk. Rigorous risk management processes are a key tool in any registered providers’ armoury. We have just completed a survey on risk and assurance with a range of housing providers to find out whether these processes and frameworks have developed in line with changes in external factors or whether risk and assurance frameworks have stagnated and may not be fit for purpose.
The HCA has provided housing boards with its ‘starter for 10’ by annually producing its ‘sector risk profile’ document. The HCA will even review risk and assurance systems as part of its regulatory judgement, but there has not been any attempt to review and compare the risk and assurance frameworks in operation across the sector.
The results of our survey suggest in many organisations risk and assurance frameworks have remained unaltered for a number of years despite the rapidly changing external environment. There is some excellent practice within the sector but many smaller providers are operating with cumbersome reporting mechanisms and their methodologies have not developed to take account of current best practice.
With the proposed downgrading of providers over failings concerning value for money, poor risk and assurance frameworks may be the next area of concern for the regulator. More robust systems and better analysis can provide greater comfort and assurance to housing providers which in turn will allow them to take on more risk in a planned manner. As the sector continues to develop, it may well be this ability to take on more risk that could become the defining feature of those providers that grow and develop.