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Posted 11 July 2016

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Our governance & financial viability

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has announced it's judgement into the governance and financial viability of Ongo Homes following a regulatory review.

It has upgraded Ongo Homes’ governance rating to the highest level - G1 for governance and V1 for financial viability. This means the association meets the standards required by the HCA.

The Government department, which regulates the social housing sector, carries out frequent inspections into registered housing associations to make sure they are well governed by an effective Board and that the business is financially sound.

Housing associations are given a rating, depending on how compliant they are with the HCA’s strict standards.

In January 2015 Ongo Homes, formerly North Lincolnshire Homes (NLH), was downgraded to G2 for governance. This meant it was still meeting the standard, but improvements were required. Specifically, the HCA concluded that ‘NLH’s board needed to improve its collective skills base to perform this role consistently’.

Following this judgement the board sought external assistance and upskilled it’s members to strengthen itself.

In April 2016 the HCA carried out a further in depth assessment of Ongo Homes and in a report published in June 2016 concluded that ‘Ongo Homes’ governance arrangements enable it to adequately control the organisation and are supporting it to meet it’s objectives.’ 

The report said: “Our previous regulatory judgement concluded that Ongo Homes’ board had not demonstrated sufficient assurance that it was able to fully exercise its role of leading and controlling its business within the context of an unregistered parent and an expanding wider group structure.

“Following that judgement, the board sought external assistance and has upskilled its board to the extent that it is now operating at a level which matches the activity and risk exposure of the group, including the risks stemming from its position within an unregistered group structure. It has also strengthened the mechanisms it has in place to protect it from exposure to other parts of the group through enhancements to its intra-group agreements and has overseen improvements to the quality of board reporting.”

Matthew Spittles, Chair of Ongo Homes Board, said: “We are very pleased the HCA has upgraded our governance level to the highest rating following its latest in depth review.

“Since we were downgraded in 2015 we have invested heavily in strengthening the board, upskilling its members and really making sure it acts in a robust manner to make Ongo Homes the best social landlord it can be for its tenants.”

Chief Executive Andy Orrey, said: “External scrutiny is an essential part of our performance management and a true reality check of how we are doing, so we welcome the HCA’s findings.

“We have a strong, well managed business with a clear vision to create and sustain truly vibrant communities.

“Just this year we have been named Large Social Landlord of the Year at the Housing Excellence Awards and at the Housing Heroes awards we achieved Frontline Team of the year for our customer service and our Maintenance Team were named ‘Development or Maintenance team of the year.’

“We have successfully delivered improvements to our governance arrangements and I’m pleased the HCA agrees we meet their high standards.”

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