Rescuers lined up for bankruptcy threat
The new housing regulator is lining up a ‘cab rank’ of housing associations which would step in if another Ujima-style collapse occurs.
The incoming chief executive of the Tenant Services Authority was quizzed today by the Communities and Local Government select committee about what he had learned from the collapse of Ujima, which became insolvent last year.
Peter Marsh replied: ‘We have begun to develop a cab rank of organisations who would be ready and willing to step in if a similar situation took place.
‘We are also looking at what would happen if a larger organisation were to face difficulties, and there was not a single organisation who were ready to step in and help them out.’
He added that the plans are designed to allow the regulator ‘to respond to a range of events that may or may not take place in the next 12 months’.
Mr Marsh told Inside Housing the moves were a response to overall conditions in the housing market, rather than specific information about any particular association.
‘We have begun to see who has the ability in terms of their governance, viability, and cash flow to step in to a situation where we need to move the ownership of stock from one association to another,’ he said.
‘We are trying to identify who would be able to do this, so we have a more proactive approach to identifying a provider.’
The stock of Ujima housing association was transferred to London & Quadrant Group in January after the association ran into financial problems. The deal was brokered by the Housing Corporation, whose regulatory powers is being handed to the TSA.
Mr Marsh, who is currently deputy chief executive of the corporation, told the select committee that one of the lessons he learnt from the collapse of Ujima was to listen to tenants.
‘I was personally quite surprised how few tenants complained to the Housing Corporation in January following the transfer to L&Q,’ he said. ‘The message back to me was: “We wish you had asked us earlier”.’