Serious Detriment is not an easy thing to define, particularly when the Social Housing Regulator itself says there is no fixed definition and judges case by case. Two things, however, are very clear to me
- The Consumer Regulation Review 27/18 specifically referred to the Grenfell disaster and had compliance with Health and Safety law as the key message of the document. Failure to meet Health and Safety standards is likely to give rise to Serious Detriment for poor Governance.
- The number of downgrades for lack of Health and Safety Governance controls is increasing.
It’s my view that unless we up our game as a sector, there will be more Governance downgrades as a result of failure to manage key landlord compliance topics.
The Home Standard requires registered providers to meet all applicable statutory requirements relating to occupant’s Health and Safety in their homes. Fire Safety and Gas Safety have long been on the agenda, but 2017/18 saw the first breaches of the Homes Standard for Legionella management and for Electrical Safety. Interestingly asbestos was also included on the list of specific items that may result in breach, although the Review made clear that the list could include any matter likely to affect tenant safety and result in serious harm.
It is not uncommon for consultants such as Caldiston to be called in to define and drive an improvement plan, following intervention from the Regulator. But we would much rather be there before things go wrong. With that in mind, I thought it may be useful to share the top three areas for improvement identified by our expert team members:
At Number 1
A lack of assurance at Board level. Caused by a lack of process for the Board to oversee Health and Safety, or from poor compliance data that gives a false sense of security. So the Board may know that 100% of properties have a Fire Risk Assessment, but not that 80% of these flagged up actions which are yet to be completed.
At Number 2
Poor data management. Inconsistent, incomplete or downright misleading data can generate a level of complacency that leaves a provider floundering when something goes wrong. You can’t fix problems you don’t know exist. This can be even more of an issue in complex group structures, formed via multiple amalgamations or mergers over an extended period.
At Number 3
A damaging Health and Safety culture where mistakes are covered up, incidents are not reported and opportunities to improve are missed. Health and Safety or Compliance professionals are sidelined or, worse, are part of the problem by only being visible when something goes wrong.
You will note these three points all have something in common. They are opportunities. Opportunities at both Board level and within the business, to recognise when something has gone wrong, look at it objectively and ask ourselves about the implications and solutions. These are the learning opportunities, the teachable moments.
These opportunities are already there, within every business. You can tease them out and take a look anytime you want. And you can use them to make sure that not only do you meet the required standard, you can prove it when asked.
Of course, my hope is you’ll ask someone like me and my team to do this with you. In any case, I hope you found this an interesting read. You can sign up for my regular blog or find out more about us by visiting www.caldiston.co.uk