Success of IDAs dependent on providers 'being willingly transparent and honest' | News

Success of IDAs dependent on providers 'being willingly transparent and honest'

A new independent study into In Depth Assessments by the Regulator of Social Housing has shown that many providers feel that the success depends on those in the process being "willingly transparent and honest".

The study, conducted by IFF Research, also found that some providers were "surprised" by their regulatory grading, typically in the case of downgrades.

On this, 85% felt their grading was as expected, 12% did not and 3% were unsure. Considering these responses by the IDA outcome, 100% of upgrades were expected, compared to 92% of retained grades and 38% of downgrades.

This was mostly over governance gradings, with the following being found on viability grades: "Interviewees’ views on their viability grades were more varied than views on the governance grades; some suggested that V2 might actually be optimal, as there was a minority perception that to achieve a V1 you have to restrict the organisation’s investment risk and gearing too harshly, which may be in direct opposition to the organisation’s development ambitions in particular."

There was also a desire from providers to receive written, as well as verbal, feedback from the IDAs. They would also like more guidance on "the level and depth of their evidence submission".

Those providers that focus on supported housing also found that the IDA process was less tailored to their organisation (71% thinking it did against 83% for overall response).

And on remote IDAs, there was mixed feelings: "The time the IDA took ranged from a few hours of remote meetings to more than a week with notable variations in timescales between interviewees. Typically, the IDA meetings were recalled to include a Board session, an audit and risk committee, interviews with the executive team and the chair of both the Board and audit and risk committee."

But it wasn't all constructive criticism, with the professionalism and conduct of the IDA teams "consistently praised" as well as their knowledge and approach.

Providers also feel IDAs are "an important element of regulating the economic standards" alongside other initiatives such as quarterly surveys and annual stability checks.

They also noted that the IDA process followed what was previously presented to them in "Regulating the Standards" document and that most of them made changes to their approach after an IDA, most commonly in stress testing and mitigation planning, risk management and board reporting. 

Maxine Loftus, Director of Regulatory Operations, said: "We welcome the results of this survey of providers which shows that providers value the IDA process and the way in which it is carried out. We are grateful to those who took part in the survey and we will take into account their feedback, as well as our own internal reviews, as we continue to develop our approach."