Welsh regulator significantly ‘under-resourced’

Reports warn that the current level of regulatory interventions is “much higher than was ever anticipated”.

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The Regulatory Board for Wales (RBW), the group set up to examine the regulatory performance and activity of the Welsh government, has expressed concerns that Regulatory Resources needs “urgent review”.

In a report released earlier this week, RBW said that there are “too many specific instances of significant governance failings” requiring action from the regulator, with self-reporting of issues happening consistently across the sector.

It further warned that the current level of regulatory interventions is “much higher than was ever anticipated”, with seven of the 39 regulated associations in Wales sitting below standard gradings for governance.

In reports, RBW states that the regulatory system in Wales “remains a robust, appropriate and modern model for the housing association sector”, with most landlords demonstrating effective governance and service delivery.

However, it warned the regulator’s resources “are below the minimum level needed” to continue to deliver the existing framework safety and adapt to regulatory needs and demands.

“Historically, under-resourced regulatory functions across the UK increasingly rely on local whistleblowing as a key mechanism for spotlighting governance and management failures,” the report added.

RBW states that it has seen an increase in ‘whistleblowing’ in Wales, with concerns raised about the direct link to the under resourcing of the regulatory function.

The report further argues that the regulator should be made more independent from government, with a “fee-based model” of regulation pitched.

Also highlighted is the importance of understanding and hearing the views of tenants of housing associations, ensuring tenants’ concerns and interests are reflected in the work of the regulation team and the RBW.

In an introduction to the report, Helen White, chair of the RBW, said: “A well-regulated sector provides assurance to tenants, investors and other stakeholders about the quality of homes provided and about the resilience of housing associations to deliver great services to existing and new tenants.

“The regulatory board quite rightly wanted this report to do more than advise the minister on the retrospective performance of housing associations in Wales.

“That is why we have not shied away from highlighting some of the future challenges and debates needed to further strengthen existing regulatory arrangements and governance.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said: “We are encouraged that that the board believe that the regulatory model is working well.

“The report highlights a number of issues that stakeholders and the minister will wish to consider over the coming months.”

The board is also supported by a Regulatory Advisory Group, made up of stakeholders throughout the social housing sector.

The board members are as follows:

  • Helen White (chair)
  • Ceri Victory-Rowe
  • Doug Elliott
  • David Roberts
  • Robert Smith
  • Jane Mudd
  • Kevin Lawrence

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