Major merger provider busted for fire risk breaches

Regulator makes newly formed housing association responsible for sorting out “serious detriment” to hundreds of tenants identified by merger partner.

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A provider involved in one of the year’s biggest mergers breached fire risk assessment standards to the “serious detriment” of tenants, a regulatory report reveals.

Yorkshire Coast Homes (YCH) no longer exists, following its merger with Coast & Country Housing in October to form Beyond Housing with 15,000 homes.

The report says a member of staff from Coast & Country providing support to YCH’s health and safety team during the merger process identified issues over risk assessment standards – prompting an urgent mitigation plan and self-referral to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH).

Today (28th Nov) RSH goes public with its ruling against YCH – making Beyond responsible for addressing issues uncovered.

And RSH will keep the Beyond response under review as to further action.

In the meantime, Beyond gets an interim G2 governance grading, recognising a need to improve some aspects of its governance arrangements to support continued compliance.

RSH found, prior to the merger, YCH breached the Home standard and risked serious detriment to hundreds of tenants by not updating fire risk assessments (FRAs) in accordance with statutory duty.

Having identified hazards and residents at risk, YCH self-referred to RSH saying that a large number of FRAs had passed their review date, and that a small number of properties did not have an FRA in place.

The majority of these properties had been overdue for around eight months, but a small number had been overdue for more than a year.

YCH also conceded to concerns about the quality of the FRAs carried out with doubt as to whether all hazards had been fully identified and limited evidence to demonstrate that actions identified had been completed.

This issue was identified during the merger process by a member of staff from Coast & Country providing support to YCH’s health and safety team.

It was then that the self-referral was made and an urgent mitigation plan put in place.

Additional resources, including staff with relevant experience, were brought in to carry out initial inspections to ensure there were no excess combustible materials or ignition sources in communal areas, and began to carry out the FRAs prioritised by risk.

This is the work that Beyond is expected to complete.

RSH concludes that YCH breached the Home standard in failing to regularly review its FRAs, lacking assurance that the correct risks had been identified and the relevant actions to manage the identified risks had been completed.

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