Review finds ‘critical failures’ in council’s housing compliance process

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices. Picture: Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council referred themselves to the Regulator for Social Housing in May last year. - Credit: Archant

A review has found ‘critical failures’ in Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s housing compliance process for social housing.

The report comes after the council commissioned lawyers Eversheds Sutherland to conduct a Compliance Process Review following a self-referral to the Regulator for Social Housing in May last year.

It has now been voluntarily published by WHBC ahead of a Cabinet Housing Panel meeting on Monday, March 7.

Housing compliance is in place to protect tenants and covers health and safety issues including gas, electrical and fire safety, but the review found Welwyn Hatfield’s process to have ‘critical failures’.

Councillor Fiona Thomson, executive member for housing and climate change apologised to residents who had been ‘let down’ by the process and promised to deliver on the priorities highlighted by the report.

“Firstly, I want to reiterate my apologies to tenants and leaseholders who were let down by failures in our compliance programme,” she said.

“I welcome the publication of the Eversheds Sutherland’s Compliance Process Review and we accept its findings.

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“At several points in the Eversheds review, it is made clear that the reporting of risk to the corporate management team and to cabinet did not reflect the reality of our compliance position. These were critical failures and we fully accept them.

“The report also highlights a number of issues relating to the systems we were using, our governance, and management of resources.

“Our focus since these issues came to light last year has been to implement the changes needed to ensure something like this couldn’t happen again, and I am pleased that the report notes the progress made in this respect.

“Specifically, the report highlights more accurate record keeping, better reporting and lines of communication, additional resources, and increased awareness amongst officers and members of the council.

“Our priority now is to maintain that momentum and we are putting in place a new management structure across the whole council to deliver on our priorities for the challenges ahead.”

To read the report, visit one.welhat.gov.uk/housingcompliancestatement.