Non-compliant South Yorkshire Housing Association brings in Matthew Harrison as it addresses governance and viability issues

Troubled South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) has recruited experienced housing association boss Matthew Harrison as chair as it attempts to turn around its regulatory difficulties.

The 5,700-home association was found non-compliant with the regulator’s governance and financial viability standard in June after breaching lending agreements due to business planning and control failures.

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Matthew Harrison

Harrison is chief executive of 24,000-home Great Places Housing Association and has 30 years of executive-level experience in housing. He oversaw an improvement to Great Places governance rating after the association was downgraded in 2013 for issues preceding Harrison’s appointment.

Larry Gold, chief executive of SYHA, said: “We had an outstanding calibre of candidates for the role but were particularly impressed by the alignment between Matt’s previous experience and our current focus on improving the governance and financial resilience of SYHA”.

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) in June judged the 5,700-home association non-compliant, awarding it a ‘G3’ and ‘V3’ rating for governance and viability respectively, meaning it is breaching the standard and needs to take action.

In a regulatory judgement RSH said SYHA has “not been managing its affairs with an appropriate degree of skill, diligence, prudence and foresight.”

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It said financial governance weaknesses led to it miscalculating its compliance with loan covenants over a number of years.

This led to a historic covenant breach, with a further forecast breach relating to 2022/23. RSH said it is also exposed to wider loan agreement breaches due to cross-default clauses with other funders.

Gold said at the time improving SYHA’s governance was the association’s “number one priority.”