Monday, July 28, 2008

Ujima governance and regulation: lessons for everyone

After something of a wait, the Housing Corporation website today carries the report of the independent Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of Ujima Housing Association (pdf available). My first impressions are favourable. It appears to advocate better regulation rather than more recognition.

The report notes:

Ujima’s fate has starkly highlighted issues of governance and regulation that should be salutary for the Board of every registered social landlord, and for the Corporation and its successor bodies, and also contains important issues for the sector’s lenders and for government to consider.

It goes on:

It is not the objective of the Inquiry to seek to attribute blame. But, in our opinion, Ujima’s collapse was the result of bad management and an ineffective Board.

As so often in reports studying the entrails of failed and collapsed organisations (both in the social housing sector and elsewhere such as the NHS and charities), governance problems were found to include board members providing insufficient challenge to management and failing to insist on the provision of proper information sufficient to fulfil their responsibilities. For example, the report notes the limited and “poor quality” financial reports and the lack of risk management information.

These are things that board members at housing associations as well as other organisations need to consider carefully while the Housing Corporation (and its successors) implement the recommendations relating to better communication and earlier, more effective regulatory action.

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