Posted by: Colin Wiles14/08/2012
In case you missed it, the Conservative Home website launched an extraordinary attack upon the Chartered Institute of Housing this week.
Edited by Hammersmith and Fulham Councillor Harry Phibbs, the article claimed that the Institute’s £10 million annual income comes “overwhelmingly” from the taxpayer – in conference fees, membership subscriptions and other forms of public support. The anonymous writer highlights some of the allegedly controversial courses that the CIH offers – on emotional intelligence, advocating mediation rather than eviction for troublesome tenants and, shock horror, pushing the “intrusive and divisive” diversity monitoring agenda. The article suggests that housing officers should attend these courses in their own time and at their own expense.The CIH is also accused of being highly political, attacking the government over welfare reform and making the “case for more state housing – for more subsidy, dependency, drab standardised egalitarian conformity.”
The CIH chief executive, Grainia Long, has provided a spirited response to the Conservative Home article.
But I’m puzzled by this. Why is the CIH being singled out for attention when many other professional bodies working in the public sector receive similar support in terms of training, conferences, subscriptions and consultancy? The RIBA, RTPI, RICS are all partly supported by public funds. Is this part of a wider attack upon social housing, a brick-by-brick dismantling of the principles and ethos of our sector, or am I being paranoid? Is Harry Phibbs just flying a kite that is not representative of Conservative Party views or does this represent grass-roots opinion - a view that the days of state-sponsored housing are numbered? Either way, it shows that we need to re-double our efforts to get our message across to the wider public and to politicians in particular.
From Inside out
An independent look at the housing sector and beyond from Colin Wiles