A Cheshire housing association’s governance is under review by the social housing regulator after reporting it had failed to meet required standards of health and safety.
Following an internal review that identified a range of issues, Cheshire Peaks & Plains Housing Trust (PPHT) referred itself to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH).
The regulator has subsequently issued a regulatory notice that says PPHT has failed to meet the Home Standard, with the consequence that there has been the “potential for serious detriment” to its tenants.
The Home Standard requires social landlords to meet all “applicable statutory requirements” that provide for the health and safety of tenants in their homes. This requirement exists alongside specific statutory duties on gas, fire safety, asbestos, and electrical safety.
Furthermore, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, PPHT has a duty to ensure that it conducts its business in such a way that third parties, including tenants, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Problems were identified that meant the organisation had failed across several health and safety areas. This included properties where recommended actions from fire risk assessments had not been carried out, and hundreds of domestic properties where electrical safety checks had not been completed.
What’s more a “significant number” of actions were identified during domestic asbestos surveys, but PPHT was unable to provide evidence of what required works had been completed to remove the risks to tenants.
The regulator has noted that PPHT had identified and self-reported these issues, and is taking steps to address the matter, and for these reasons it is taking no further action other than to consider its governance grade.
“[T]aking into account the seriousness of the issues identified, and the range of health and safety areas where failings were identified, the regulator has concluded that it is proportionate to find a breach of the Home Standard,” the regulator said.
“The management of health and safety compliance is important because of the potentially fatal consequences if tenants’ homes are unsafe. In this case, the regulator has concluded that the risk of serious harm is demonstrated because of the number of tenants potentially exposed to a risk of danger over a significant period of time. Therefore, the serious detriment test has been met.”
Responding to the regulatory notice, John Hudson, PPHT’s chair, said: “The Regulator of Social Housing acknowledges we are working effectively to make improvements that will ensure compliance with the Home Standard.
“This follows our self-notification to the regulator, which was based on an independent report that we commissioned.
“This report outlined where we could improve our health and safety compliance. Of course, this is a hugely important area and our key focus.
“Since these issues first came to light we have been working hard on remedial works and how we record data. We will continue to work through our detailed action plans until we have successfully embedded new, safer ways of working.
“It is the board’s priority to complete this series of improvements as quickly, responsibly and as considerately as possible for the continued safety of all our customers and staff.”