Bridgewater Housing Association Takes Proactive Steps to Enhance Tenant and Resident Safety following Review of Engagement Plan
Bridgewater Housing Association(BHA) is actively working towards full compliance with the Regulatory Standards and prioritising tenant safety through a comprehensive action plan. Following the identification of gas servicing issues in May 2023, Bridgewater proactively self-referred to the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) and implemented a series of measures to address concerns and enhance its safety practices. The SHR implemented a review of the Association’s regulatory status in October 2023 and this review is now complete resulting in the Association’s regulatory status being amended to “Working towards compliance”.
It is the Association’s view that this is a positive step and several of the issues considered in the SHR’s review have not been taken forward by the regulator in the revised Engagement Plan due to the hard work of and the positive and proactive approach by the Board and Staff at Bridgewater.
The revised Engagement Plan which can be found on the SHR’s website – https://www.housingregulator.gov.scot/landlord-performance/landlords/bridgewater-housing-association-ltd/engagement-plan-from-18-january-2024-to-31-march-2024/ – focuses on tenant and resident safety and in particular gas servicing. All outstanding gas safety checks were completed shortly after the issue was identified and the Association has commissioned an independent review of its broader tenant and resident safety practices, recognising the opportunity to further elevate our processes.
Bridgewater is committed to actively implementing any recommendations of the independent review, with the audit covering gas, electrical, fire, legionella, asbestos, and lift safety, alongside mould and damp management. Policies and procedures have been updated, and the independent audit of tenant and resident safety commenced in January 2024, with key areas reviewed by April 2024.
The SHR’s updated Engagement Plan recognises Bridgewater’s “open and constructive” approach in tackling the identified issues. This commitment to transparency and collaboration is at the heart of the Association’s ongoing efforts. Regular dialogue and engagement with the SHR ensure that actions taken are effectively addressing regulatory requirements and resident concerns.
“We continue to take proactive steps to strengthen our approach to tenant and resident safety,” said Andy Thomson, CEO. “We are confident that these initiatives, coupled with our ongoing open and positive collaboration with the SHR, will ensure that Bridgewater continues to provide a safe and comfortable living environment for all tenants and that we will meet our regulatory requirements fully in the coming months.
We have already made significant progress as the revised Engagement Plan shows and there will be no impact on our residents or the quality of services we provide during this process”.
Bridgewater Housing Association is “working openly and constructively” with the Scottish Housing Regulator in order to achieve full “compliance” following the identification of tenant safety issues that were identified by the Association.
That was the message from the Regulator as they published an updated “Engagement Plan” for the association as it continues to engage with us over our tenant and resident safety and governance.
The Scottish Housing Regulator role is to protect tenants’ interests and ensure the good governance of social housing landlords like Bridgewater.
There is a requirement for all housing providers to be “compliant” – meeting the regulatory standards set out by the Scottish Housing Regulator.
The Engagement Plan which can be found on the Scottish Housing Regulator’s website www.housingregulator.gov.scot states:
“In May 2023, Bridgewater informed us of a number of gas safety fails in its Annual Return on the Charter (ARC). Bridgewater was unaware of the issue until the end of March 2023 following a change of contractor in November 2022 and it did not submit a Notifiable Event to us about this. We subsequently engaged with Bridgewater on this matter and its compliance with our regulatory guidance on notifiable events. Through our engagement, we later identified an error in the information provided to us and had to seek additional assurance on the completion of any remaining gas safety checks. Bridgewater has informed us that all remaining gas safety checks have now been completed.
“In July 2023, Bridgewater shared with us an internal report on a broader review of its compliance with tenant and resident safety duties, including gas, electrical, fire, legionella, asbestos management, lift safety and its approach to mould and damp. It identified a number of weaknesses relating to its policies and procedures. It has also identified the need to obtain an independent review of its tenant and resident safety compliance.
“Bridgewater has taken immediate steps to address the issues in its approach to gas safety by implementing changes to its policies and procedures. It is also progressing a number of actions to make improvements across its other tenant and resident safety duties.
“Bridgewater is seeking to make improvements in its overall approach to governance and to its self-assurance processes. It also commissioned an independent review of its governance that was reported to the Board and shared with us in September 2023.
“We are continuing to seek assurance from Bridgewater regarding its compliance with our Regulatory Standards of Governance and Financial Management and its tenant and resident safety duties. We are also seeking assurance in respect of its governance arrangements relating to its policies, systems and processes, and self-assurance. Bridgewater is engaging with us openly and constructively.”
The Engagement Plan notes that we have developed an action plan to address the issues, including the revision of tenant and resident safety polices and the appointment of an independent tenant and resident safety audit to ensure compliance and to address the findings of the independent audit.
We are also in the process of working through this action plan to ensure that these issues cannot be repeated in the future.
Bridgewater Chief Executive Andy Thomson said: “Following the identification of issues with our Gas Servicing programme that were caused by a technical issue when data was transferred to our new contractor, we identified 36 properties where the service was not complete on time. We therefore self-referred to the Scottish Housing Regulator acknowledging the issues and identifying weaknesses in our Gas Servicing and other tenant safety policies and procedures. We are committed to ensuring that tenant and resident safety is the top priority for the Association, and this was why we brought these issues to the SHR’s attention and put an improvement plan in place to ensure that this issue is not repeated.
“Although all gas service visits are now complete, we acknowledge the issues raised by the Regulator and are making significant efforts to ensure we remain fully compliant.
“Bridgewater acknowledges the input form the Scottish Housing Regulator and for recognising that we are working openly and constructively with them through our committed Board and hard-working and professional staff.”