Chairs Blog

Welcome to the latest Chair’s blog providing the recent achievements of MTHA from a business and Board perspective.

The main headlines from a recent Board meeting included:

  1. Welsh Language Scheme – the scheme is a way to ensure that in Wales the English and Welsh languages are treated equally and sets out how all public bodies intend to fulfil this commitment when providing services to the public in Wales.

At present there is still no indication as to when the Welsh standards will be applied to all Housing Associations. In the meantime, there is an expectancy that Housing Associations will continue to implement the Welsh Language Scheme and report to their respective Boards for discussion and agreement.

An action plan was presented to Board as we have a responsibility to monitor and approve the action plan on an annual basis. The action plan presented will ensure that we comply with the standard including:

  • Policies and initiatives
  • Services that are provided
  • Quality standards
  • Correspondence, communication over the telephone, public meetings and publishing and printing materials

An example would be to produce key strategic documents or those aimed at the public in general in  both English and Welsh.

  • Review of Risk Management Arrangements – MTHA recently tendered for a review of our risk management arrangements with the benefit of having a fresh pair of eyes from outside the association to challenge how we currently manage risks that could have a negative impact on the business. Our external consultant,  HQN (Housing Quality Network) undertook the review and the executive summary states:

 ‘’Overall MTHA has a sound approach to risk and has developed systems and processes to review risk at board and senior management team level. There are a number of policies and documents which set out the framework and there are regular reports on risk issues and risk management to the committees and board’’

There will be  a review of all risks led by the Audit & Risk committee to ensure that we are managing all risks effectively and our  new risk framework will include risk appetite, lines of defense, culture and risk ownership.

  • The review of affordable housing supply – Minister and Community Housing Cymru responses. The independent review of affordable housing supply in Wales was launched in May 2019 in which current housing policy in Wales was examined as we all want to ensure that we have a vision in Wales where good housing is a basic right for all.

The review provided a number of key recommendations for the social housing sector and included:

  • 5-year rent policy
    • Value for money
    • Near zero carbon homes
    • Collaboration between housing associations and local authorities
    • Grant funding reform

There was a discussion with board as each of these areas will now feed in to and inform our strategic approach as we move forward as a business.

There are already ideas being discussed in the sector and I represented MTHA at a recent event hosted by Trivallis where other representatives from Housing Associations, Local Authorities and other organisations providing services to the public started the process of identifying opportunities to work more closely to give maximum benefit in the communities that we are based, these ranged from providing new homes through to employment opportunities and providing value for money.

  • Performance and information – Health and Safety Compliance – Health and Safety is always a priority for MTHA in respect of our tenants, communities, partners and staff. This is the reason it always features so highly in the risk management side of the business. As such it was pleasing to read and discuss the report confirming that this is an area operationally that we are managing well.
  • Tenant & Community Development

MTHA have a history of developing initiatives that benefit our tenants and communities and below is a link to a video that highlights the work undertaken between April and June 2019:

  • Developments on site – we currently have 3 developments on-site, being 8 flats in the town centre (expected March 2020), 43 units at Ymyl Yr Afon, Merthyr Vale (phased delivery over the next 2 years) and 8 units in Lower Thomas Street (due end of 2020).

Ian Bell

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