New measures put forward in the Housing and Planning Act, which was passed this year, aim to reverse the decision to reclassify associations as public sector, which was enforced by the Office for National Staticstics (ONS).
These measures will commence from the 6th of April next year, and will remove the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) power of consent over disposals, restructures and mergers.
This is alongside the axing of the disposals proceeds fund, which currently allows the HCA to decide where cash is spent following the sale of social housing assets.
Instead, a notifications regime which obliges housing associations to inform the regulator of these actions - without having any power to stop them - will be put into place.
Alongside this, there is suggestion that the HCA would prioritise a merged housing association for an ‘in-depth assessment’ (IDA), though it may take six to twelve months for this to take place, to allow for the new structure to settle in.
The regulator’s power to appoint new board members will now only be allowed in instances of ‘breach of legal requirements’ rather than ‘mismanagement’.
These proposals were presented to stakeholders, Jim Bennett, assistant director of regulation strategy, said, and the response was positive, especially from lenders who were assured by the notification regime and the scrutiny following a merger.