In 2015, the Housing and Communities Agency (HCA) announced its plans to replace their annual viability reviews with Registered Providers with 1000+ houses with periodic In-Depth Assessment every three or four years - meaning that many Providers will not have had their first assessment yet.
Firstly, how will an IDA be carried out?
The HCA will focus on Strategy, Structure, Financial Resilience, Risk Profile and Mitigation, and Governance.
- The HCA will give the chosen Housing Association 6 weeks' notice of its intention to carry out an IDA, although, in certain, more urgent, circumstances, an IDA may be carried out at a shorter notice.
- The HCA will then request a list of documents, with associated deadlines, to be uploaded via the HCA's data collection website - NROSH+. An explanation of each request, as well as the relevant standard that will be fulfilled, is also sent across.
- Interviews will be held with key members of the executive team and board members. These may be either one to one, or group interviews. The aim of these is to explore any identified areas of risk, and to examine documentation previously sent over by the association.
- It is at this stage of the assessment that the HCA will most likely sit in on a board meeting to observe the decision making and debating process.
- Finally, the HCA will inform the Housing Association of their conclusion, offering positive observations, constructive feedback, further improvements to be employed, and any changes to their regulatory judgement.
We have identified and compiled our top six tips to survive, and ultimately improve off the back of, an In-Depth Assessment.
1) Know who and where your key assets are
- Be prepared for every eventuality – know who your key individuals are, their roles, their availability throughout the process, their responsibilities, and the insight they can offer for each section of the inspection. No one person is expected to know everything.
- Be sure to include someone, if possible, with experience of NROSH+ to assist in the smooth uploading of all your documents in the pre-inspection document gathering stage.
2) Keep everyone informed
- Be sure everyone knows what will be happening and what will be expected of them - what will they be inspected on/who might they have to talk to/what might they have to provide if requested?
- Do not be afraid to ask further questions of the HCA, and otherwise run the risk of spreading misinformation to your organisation.
3) Evidence that you are aware of high risk areas
- Understand no company is perfect - the IDA is likely to focus in on the key areas of risk for your association, so give an honest thought to what these are and make sure you have clearly set out your plan for mitigating them.
- Remember, everyone is working towards the same goal of operational perfection.
4) Stress Test and then Stress Test Some More
- It is important to find a balance when devising stress-test scenarios between tough enough to test your managerial, logistical, and organisational skills, but not too tough that you end up with demoralising no-win scenarios.
- Make sure you include a wide range of scenarios that incorporates both internal and external risks i.e. economic factors, safeguarding, public relations, hikes in interest rates, house price drops or cuts to benefits.
5) Be proactive
- Amongst the document requests, or upon arrival of the HCA regulator, provide an initial background of your organisation for practical context of who you are, your position within the community, and why you function as you do.
- The HCA will wish to see your decision-making process via meeting observations and minutes – have them well documented and presentable, with further evidence of changes that arose from those meetings.
But, most importantly...
6) Learn from it
- The IDA's are there to help, not hinder, you.
- Embrace feedback, and show a willingness to integrate it into your goals and objectives.
How Can Pentana Performance Help?
Pentana Performance enables you to be doing the right thing, but more importantly being seen to be doing the right thing.
Pentana Performance includes a powerful yet easy to use Action & Project capability which can be mapped to the IDA process with key individuals aligned to each project or action area, and our proactive automated alerts ensure that tasks are being managed and completed on time.
To find out more about how Pentana Performance can support your IDA, contact our team.