Last week, the NHF published its final version of its new Code of Governance and made some important changes from the previous draft that will impact on those housing associations looking to adopt it.
The specific requirement of the Standard is:-
“To maintain a thorough, accurate and up to date record of their assets and liabilities and particularly those liabilities that may have recourse to social housing assets” (Paragraph 2.5(a))
As in the consultation documentation there is no particular format for the register. The Code requires the register to be readily available and show such information as would be needed in the event of a potential or actual failure of the provider. What that information is depends on the individual provider, but it needs to contain sufficient information to enable a potential buyer to accurately price the value of the business and/or the value of the social housing assets in the event of distress.
The Code states that the register should identify all social housing assets and where these assets are encumbered. The expectation is that the register will normally include treasury arrangements, key contracts, title information and any restrictions on individual titles (for example planning obligations, charitable or other restrictions), valuations, stock condition and lender covenants. But this list is the starting point; with the pointer that liabilities included on the register need to be “in the widest context”. The Code suggests: -
- loans including borrowing from other group companies or related undertakings
- guarantees, indemnities etc. including those provided to subsidiaries and SPVs
- whether secured or unsecured
- leases, sale/lease and leaseback transactions
- mark-to-market exposures on derivative positions
- cross default provisions (for example, a provision in a loan agreement which provides that a default on one loan agreement gives rise to a default on another one, including where these potentially cross between organisations within a group)
- a duty or responsibility that obligates one organisation to another, leaving it little or no discretion to avoid settlement
- the potential for any impairment particularly in relation to investments in non-core activities
An important aspect is the role of a RP’s Board in compliance with the Asset Register requirements. It is the Board which “owns” the Register since it is the Board who certify compliance in the annual accounts.
It is hoped that Boards will see the Register as a tool for them to use as having an accurate assets and liabilities register is so closely allied with the expectation of stress testing.
For more information
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