Thursday, 24 April 2014

Auditors called in to probe alleged links between employee and contractor

Novas faces new investigation

Housing association Novas Scarman has called in auditors after allegations that one of its contractors had links to a member of its staff.

It has also emerged this week that the association, which is currently the subject of a statutory inquiry ordered by the housing regulator, spent £260,000 on creating an little-used Chinese-themed theatre in Liverpool.

The allegations emerged after a Novas source wrote to Inside Housing suggesting that there were concerns about the association’s employment of a contractor. It was alleged that a member of staff at Novas had links to the contractor. Novas confirmed it had asked its external auditors to investigate what it stressed were ‘alleged disclosures’ about the unnamed firm. It said that it was unable to comment further until the process was concluded.

In 2005/06 Novas spent £260,000 on its outdoor Dragon Theatre at the Alima Centre in Liverpool. The Novas source said the theatre saw little activity and ‘resembles a Victorian folly’. It is effectively now closed.

A Novas spokesperson said: ‘[The theatre] did end up with less use than anticipated, and in 2008 we subsequently decided to consolidate all activity.’ She said the theatre activities were transferred to Novas’ Contemporary Urban Centre, also in Liverpool.

In October the Housing Corporation announced a statutory inquiry into ‘aspects of the financial management’ of Novas Scarman.

The group has been expanding its social enterprise and arts businesses, as part of a plan to move away from hostel provision. Last summer it said it was planning to transfer its flagship hostel, Arlington House in Camden, to One Housing Group halfway through a multi-million refurbishment.

But some of its social enterprise and arts ventures have fallen on hard times - its fashion store in Camden closed in early 2008 after being open for just a year.

Novas made an operating deficit of £277,700 in 2006/07. Its 2007/08 accounts have not yet been released.

Readers' comments (3)

  • former employees speak out at

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Can anyone explain how Novas ever justified spending so much money on vanity projects? I live near the Contemporary Urban Centre on the South Bank. It is barely used and must have cost a fortune. The job opportunities it provides could have been provided far, far cheaper in Sheppey, Bridgend or Newton Aycliffe while the footfall to see the 'art' does not justify spending the cash to be right by the Tate Modern. It must still be swallowing huge amounts of public money. It is, frankly, an outrage.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Read this article then write comments

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register



  • Food for thought


    This man is homeless and hungry so should organisations be allowed to give him food on the streets? Heather Spurr examines a debate which is once again under the spotlight

  • Lead by example


    A recent case proves why boards must be stringent, objective and and critical in their approach, says Mererid McDaid

  • Home comforts

    13 August 2013

  • Job swap shop


    By switching roles with employees from other housing providers, four social landlords are hoping to learn some valuable lessons. Simon Brandon investigates

  • Seeing red


    Scottish social landlords are up in arms about the regulator’s tough refereeing of the sector. Heather Spurr investigates the state of play


  • Paying the price of silence


    ‘Gagging clauses’ are hard to enforce and should be handled with caution, says Vivienne Reeve, associate at Wragge & Co

  • You are where you live


    Stunning views and elegant Georgian architecture aren’t necessarily what you would expect from a homelessness hostel. Caroline Thorpe investigates why one charity thinks a beautiful location is key to its success

  • A bright idea


    Why has a Sunderland-based social landlord set up a charity providing solar powered lamps to communities in Africa? Martin Hilditch finds out

  • Express yourself


    A research study in Merseyside aims to prove that artistic therapy can help people with Alzheimer’s and their families cope better with the disease. Ciara Leeming investigates

  • Bringing a post office back into the community


    Much to the delight of the local people, Scottish Borders Housing Association has opened a Post Office at its headquarters in Bannerfield, the first ever branch outside a retail unit. Maria Brett reports on the initiative