The 38-000 housing association had previously been G1/V2 when its grading was placed under review in September 2023, following some self-referrals.
A2Dominion’s new grading shows that whilst the Group continues to meet the RSH’s financial viability requirements (V2) it needs to make significant improvements to its governance arrangements (G3) to fully comply with their Governance & Financial Viability Standard.
The housing association had already recognised the need to make a number of important changes in early 2023. As a result, it accelerated the implementation of a wide range of improvements, launched a new strategy and plan, and engaged even more closely with the Regulator, including some self-referrals. It also retained its Fitch credit rating of A with a stable outlook in October 2023.
The Group will continue its close engagement with the Regulator in order to return to a fully compliant governance grading in areas relating to business planning, risks and controls, and data, and will put a joint plan in place over the coming months.
Meanwhile the new grading does not affect any of the Group’s services to customers nor the communities it serves, and it will continue to deliver its day-to-day operations as normal.
The Regulator of Social Housing said: “This regulatory judgement downgrades our previous assessment of A2Dominion Housing Group Limited’s governance grade from G1 to G3 and confirms its existing V2 financial viability grade. This means that there are issues of serious regulatory concern that the provider is working with us to address.”
It added: “A2Dominion is working positively with the regulator to ensure it has the capacity and capability, and in conjunction with external advisers, the support to address the governance issues identified in this regulatory judgement.
“The current Chief Executive and Chair have been proactive in identifying weaknesses and communicating these with the Regulator.”
Ian Wardle, Chief Executive Officer of A2Dominion, said: “Over the past few months, we’ve been in positive and constructive discussions with the Regulator following our self-referrals.
“We’ve welcomed the opportunity to identify further steps that we can take to make improvements for our customers and the communities we serve.
“The Regulator has confirmed that it has assurance that we have an adequately funded business plan in the short term, sufficient security in place, and is forecast to continue to meet its financial covenants.
“Since I joined in September 2022, we’ve had a new chair of the board appointed, many new board members, and changes to our management team. All our colleagues are passionate about what we do.
“However, in far too many instances, colleagues haven’t had the resources and processes to fully deliver outstanding customer service.
“It is my job to fix this, and we’ve made improvements throughout 2023, with more planned in 2024.
“At the same time historic decisions on development schemes, tougher trading conditions and rising costs have affected our finances, but we will weather the storm.
“We’ve already made a number of significant improvements in relation to customer complaints and have prioritised our commitment to social housing as the core of our business, including our exit from care services and fine tuning our development strategy so we can focus on getting things right first time for our customers.
“We also remain financially strong, with an A credit rating from Fitch, £3.6bn of assets, and over £300mn of undrawn available facilities.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Regulator following their decision, and will collaborate on the steps we need to take to return to our previous rating.”
Last year A2Dominion reviewed its core purpose as a housing association, resulting in the launch of a new Corporate Strategy with a vision to provide homes that our customers love to live in.
The Group has been looking closely at how it can continue to improve as an organisation and to deliver even better services to customers and has already taken a number of steps to achieve this, including:
- The introduction of a new Chair and a new Chief Executive Officer
- Refreshing it’s leadership team, including a new role that’s dedicated to customers – a Chief Customer Officer
- A new Corporate Strategy that it developed with customers, which sets out its new direction, priorities and how it will deliver these over the next few years
- Changes to improve the way it carries out repairs, starting with the appointment of a new repairs contractor
- The launch of new ways for customers to get involved with shaping and improving the services it delivers
- A new Resident Engagement Strategy to help ensure it’s buildings are safe, well managed and maintained to a good standard
- Proactively inviting its residents to find out how they can get help with any complaints or disputes alongside the Housing Ombudsman.