[PDF] 2017 State of Internal Audit in Housing Study

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Investing in internal audit functions will help housing associations work more efficiently according to a new study by Orbit’s Service Matters division.

Key findings

  • Internal audit can do more to support organisations with their transformation and efficiency agendas
  • It is not seen to be completely in-sync with stakeholder expectations
  • It should closely align its work to strategic objectives whilst delivering innovation and added value
  • Internal audit is not leveraging technology and data effectively to assess risks

Orbit’s professional services division, Service Matters, has today released its first State of Internal Audit in Housing study, which found internal audit needs to transform in order to widen its offer from controls and compliance to help housing associations operate more efficiently.

Based on responses from around 100 housing associations across the UK, only 15% reported that their audit functions are ‘very good at strategic alignment’. The first study of its kind shows that only 54% of stakeholders believe their internal audit function meets their needs ‘very well’ or ‘extremely well’. Almost half of all stakeholders want internal audit to deliver more value.

Amandeep Jhawar, Audit Director, Service Matters said: “The sector has made its voice very clear, as it moves to a new operating environment there are now greater expectations from key partners including internal audit. It is key that the internal audit service is up skilled to deliver a service where expertise and innovation are at the heart of its offer.

“However, in a world of emerging technological and environmental risks, it is essential that internal audit still effectively delivers the basics. Internal audit still has a key role to ensure effective internal control frameworks are in place including the management of basic frauds such as changes in supplier bank details, tenancy fraud and falsifying expenses.”

Suggestions from the sector call for internal audit functions to improve collaboration, link better to strategic objectives, focus on high impact work and eliminate audits that offer little value while using better data and analytics.

As housing associations increasingly look to transform their business models, reshape services and implement new technologies, the study shows 71% of internal audit functions are not fit for purpose in this area.

“Best in class internal audit functions should be looking forward and supporting transformation programmes. They should direct resources to provide risk assurance and confidence that transformation programmes can be delivered. Internal audit also has a key role in ensuring that while your best people are focused on driving forward strategic change, that the basics are still being effectively delivered,” says Kevin Bruerton, Head of Audit, Service Matters.

The demand for digital transformation within the sector has brought an extraordinary amount of data and disruptive technologies into the fold – completely changing the housing sector landscape. New technologies and data provide an opportunity for innovations to improve operational efficiency and impact the way people interact and work. “We believe that internal audit can support housing organisations to do more with less by investing in digital technologies and working to maximise value,” added Kevin.

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About Service Matters’ Assurance Offer

Service Matters is the alternative for housing providers who are looking to outsource some or part of its internal audit function. Having worked with over 100 housing organisations and as a division of Orbit, we have developed an approach that offers housing expertise like no other. This approach is complemented by trusted advice in areas such as assurance, risk management, governance, transformation, data protection, cyber-security and anti-fraud management.

Note to editors

As one of the UK’s largest developing housing associations, Orbit has 50 years’ experience providing more than 40,000 quality, affordable homes and a range of advice and support services to over 100,000 people across the Midlands, east and south.

Our ethical approach to business means that we reinvest our profits into our mission of building communities, ensuring all generations can live in a home they can afford. This profit for a purpose culture enables us to build around 1,700 homes a year, from market sale and shared ownership to affordable rent and independent living with care options for people aged 55-plus.

Building homes is just the start of our offer to customers. We also work closely with partners to provide a network of support services to give people choice and opportunities through employment and training, health and wellbeing, digital inclusion and financial inclusion.

Employing 1,200 staff, we have a wealth of in-house resources, skills, and experience. We harness this to provide sector-leading homes and services, but also to benefit other businesses. Through Service Matters, our professional services team, we deliver audit, insurance, procurement and other services to other public and private sector partners. 

For more information please contact Steve Kerr, Marketing Manager, Orbit  Steve.Kerr@orbit.org.uk or call 024 7643 8337

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