Assurance, Risk & Regulation

Use our in-house and externally commissioned guides for advice and information on regulatory compliance.

Changes to Money Laundering Supervision and registration

Housing associations that engage in estate agent activity need to be aware of changes to the anti-money laundering regulatory regime.

Supervision of estate agents under the Money Laundering Regulations will move from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on 1 April 2014.

If your business undertakes estate agency activity you are required to register with the OFT and that registration will automatically transfer to HMRC on the above date, without you having to take any action. If you advertise a property for sale in which you have a joint interest with a customer such as a shared ownership property or if you instruct an estate agent or lawyer to advertise such a property for sale then there is a requirement that you register with OFT.

Annual Registration fees under HMRC will rise to £110 per premises where this regulated activity takes place and there will be a cap on charges of 20 premises initially although that may change in future.

It is important that the registration process is completed as soon as possible as failure to register will attract enforcement action including financial penalties and collection of fees for past years trading.

Steve Mackle at QV Forensics operates a free helpline for Federation members on 0191 417 7676 or you can email questions to Steve Mackle

Countering fraud

Withdrawal of public subsidy and long-term bank finance and a double-dip recession present a harsh operating environment for housing associations, where every penny counts.

Fraud is an important issue and one which can have a severely adverse impact on the quality of housing provision. Government figures on fraud, translated to the housing sector, indicate that around £600m of expenditure could be lost each year – a sum sufficient to building in excess of 4,000 new homes.

The Homes and Communities Agency’s Governance Standard requires that “... Registered providers shall provide accurate and timely returns to the regulator, including an annual report on any losses from fraudulent activity...” This sits alongside the HCA’s requirement to publish clear and accessible policies, which outline a housing association’s approach to tackling tenancy fraud.

The Federation therefore commissioned PKF (UK) LLP, a leading firm of accountants and counter fraud experts to produce a practical guide on countering fraud. It is designed to help housing associations and their boards protect themselves against fraud, minimise its cost and lessen the extent to which resources are diverted away from front-line services. It provides practical advice on implementing a counter fraud framework, how to pre-empt and react to fraud, and avoid reputational damage.

It provides advice on best practice and to meet the latest, highest standards and is hoped this guide will help organisations achieve financial benefits and significantly reduced losses.

In addition, PKF and the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth have developed a freeSelf-Assessment Fraud Resilience (SAFR) tool. Users answer questions based on professional standards for counter–fraud work, about the extent to which their organisation is effectively protected against fraud. The site evaluates the answers given and rates the organisation out of a maximum 50 points which would indicate the cost of fraud to your organisation.

Bribery Act 2010

The Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1 July 2011. This far reaching piece of legislation affects all housing associations.

In this article Tom Clark from Penningtons solicitors takes a detailed look at the implications of the act. Find out more information on the bribery act 2010.