Commission wins inspection beauty contest
The new single housing inspectorate is to be based at the Audit Commission, it was announced today.
The inspectorate, which is due to start at the commission in April next year, will be responsible for driving up standards of service to tenants of both local authorities and housing associations. The changes will bring together staff in the existing housing inspectorate, who inspect local authority housing services, and staff transferred from the Housing Corporation who handle the inspection of housing associations.
The inspectorate will report the result of its inspection of housing associations to the Corporation, the statutory regulator. The organisations will work together to ensure inspection and regulatory activity are properly co-ordinated.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott said: ‘As part of my commitment to step change, I have decided to bring together a single inspectorate for housing, located in the Audit Commission. The commission, which has undertaken best value inspections of council services since April 2000, has gained a deserved reputation for its high quality inspection regime.'
PRESCOTT: Praised commission's ‘high quality' regime
A survey by the Chartered Institute of Housing showed just 3 per cent more respondents felt the body should be based on the Audit Commission's housing inspectorate rather than the Housing Corporation's (Inside Housing, 2 August 2002).
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said the new arrangements recognised the growing number of transfers of council houses to housing association management and the expectation that tenants should enjoy common standards of service.
Audit Commission Controller Sir Andrew Foster said: ‘Over the next few months we will be working very closely with the Housing Corporation to ensure we follow through on the excellent work they have done. Housing has moved up the national agenda and there are many challenges to be met.
‘We look forward to working together with others in the housing sector to support housing providers and give tenants and other users the high quality services they deserve.'
Chief housing inspector Roy Irwin added: ‘The Housing Corporation has laid firm foundations in supporting the sector to meet a challenging social agenda. The value of its work cannot be underestimated.
‘I'm looking forward to working closely with the corporation in establishing joined-up regulation that will help shape housing to meet the needs of the 21st century. In the next few weeks it will be our priority to seek the views and opinions of the National Housing Federation, housing associations and importantly lenders, on how they think we can best take this forward.'
Paul Jenks, chair of the Local Government Asociation's housing executive said: ‘They're going to have to make sure they have got the right expertise, that their procedures are clear and transparent and are robust.'
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