Politicians call for Assembly inquiry into housing association merger

Carmarthenshire politicians Adam Price AM and Jonathan Edwards MP have called for a National Assembly Committee Inquiry into the merger between Tai Cantref and Wales and West Housing Associations.

Citing concerns over the role of the Welsh Government in the merger and the lack of consultation with tenants by Tai Cantref, the Plaid Cymru duo argue that an inquiry would allow for an investigation into the Welsh Government's regulatory oversight of Tai Cantref.

Other concerns over the role of Welsh Government include the rationale behind the statutory inquiry into Tai Cantref, launched by the Welsh Government and conducted by the London-based firm Campbell Tickell, whose findings have never been made public.

The inquiry led to a situation whereby Tai Cantref faced the prospect of insolvency if shareholders rejected a merger with Wales and West Housing Association following concerns raised by Tai Cantref's financial lenders.

With the decision made by Tai Cantref shareholders to merge with Wales and West Housing Association following a vote on Tuesday night (23rd August) Mr Price and Mr Edwards have called for promises made to secure local employment, the continued provision of the Welsh language in Tai Cantref operations, and the use of local contracts by Wales and West Housing Association to be honoured.

Adam Price AM said:

"An inquiry by the National Assembly would bring much-needed transparency to this merger.

"This should include a thorough investigation of the role of the Welsh Government in its regulatory capacity which we believe directly contributed to the detriment of Tai Cantref, and the resulting merger with Wales and West Housing Association.

"An inquiry would allow the findings of the Welsh Government's statutory inquiry into Tai Cantref to be made public – an essential step considering that the findings of that report not only constituted the basis for the merger but put Tai Cantref on the brink of financial insolvency.

"Given the strength of other options open to Tai Cantref, such as support from a local authority and other local housing associations, there is an opportunity for the Assembly committee to consider whether existing legislation needs amending to allow for a more dynamic approach to the provision of social housing in Wales.

"In the meantime, however, Wales and West Housing Association needs to ensure its promises on job security and local employment are honoured, and it meets the expectations of staff and tenants by operating fully through the medium of Welsh."

Jonathan Edwards MP added:

"This merger has posed a host of questions and as such demands an inquiry to allow full scrutiny. There is a very strong argument to make that the Welsh Government's heavy handed actions directly led to the collapse of a Registered Social Landlord, jeopardising the continued provision and quality of service of social housing in west Wales.

"My principal concerns have been around the lack of consultation held with tenants, and the lack of transparency in the bidding process. An inquiry would shed much needed light on these matters and the role of the Welsh Government in the collapse of a Registered Social Landlord.

"I sincerely hope that Assembly Members will consider an inquiry into this merger to ensure the effective provision of social housing in Wales, so that tenants and workers in the social housing sector are never faced with the same ambiguity and uncertainty as experienced during this merger."


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