Ryan Dempsey, CEO of The Compliance Workbook, talks about the future of compliance in the housing sector and the challenges that may arise.
I’ve had the pleasure of travelling around the UK over the last four years, and have met some clever and competent members of the social housing community who manage that crazy word ‘compliance’.
It’s added value to me, because I spent years managing around 57,000 properties in Leeds, and I thought I had a hold on the compliances.
Interestingly, when you speak to people in the sector who are given the title of responsible/accountable person, they often say it’s hard to know exactly what’s right and what’s wrong around the management of this area. The reason for this is the amount of differing views from those who operate in the sector – from a sales perspective, I mean.
Some organisations try to use appalling historical events to scare the housing sector to react. I roll my eyes when it then transpires that those doing the scaring have a branded net below the housing association shouting, “JUMP, WE’LL SAVE YOU!” I really have seen some stupid examples which I’d love to share, but don’t fancy the arguments it would create…
The next big problem is the introduction of smart technology, or software that markets itself as the saviour of the world. Now, I am fully aware I have a software company that helps housing associations and local authorities manage the ever-changing data landscape; but, you’ll never hear me stand up and say technology is the answer to all our issues. It does help, but it helps some more than others.
The challenge is determining which technology companies are good and, more importantly, which brands are creating a problem to scare you into thinking they have the answer. It is never easy.
The truth is, compliance is complicated if you don’t have the people in post who understand the area you’re trying to improve or manage.
For example, if you employ a ‘Compliance Consultant’ who has spent years as an electrician and then a few years in housing, this person is not going to give you the level of complete clarity you’re looking for across all your disciplines. Your electrical compliance will be top-class but the rest will get less attention.
This also applies to staff being promoted to a more senior position and given more responsibility, which is fine, as long as the organisation is aware that the compliance management needs to be fuelled by competence and experience.
So, what’s the message I’m trying to convey? Well, compliance is complicated, as you are in a position where the decisions you make impact people.
The job we do in housing is admirable, and it sometimes places us in difficult positions where we have to make decisions based on what people are telling us, or what a collective of people are shouting about.
The truth is, it is your call. These are your tenants, and the way you conduct business should be reflective of the person you are.
I attended the Homes for the North event in Leeds, and Carol from Riverside (hope she doesn’t mind me mentioning her name) said off-the-cuff something I’ll never forget. And it applies across the board:
“It’s not a Duty of Care. It’s a Duty to Care.”