Cooper grilled on salaries
Housing associations have been warned by the housing minister to adopt a responsible approach to their bosses' pay, after Inside Housing revealed chief executives received bumper salary rises.
Quizzed on association salaries in the wake of our exclusive survey, Yvette Cooper said she was prepared to look at the issue.
Ms Cooper told a meeting at the Labour Party conference that the government had spoken to housing associations in the past about the issue and was 'prepared to do so again if we think there are problems in this area'. 'All organisations need to be very responsible all the way to the top,' she told Inside Housing.
Our salary survey, published last week, showed that association chief executives received an average pay hike of 10 per cent over the last year - far outstripping increases for frontline staff.
Homelessness charity Shelter warned that the soaring salaries of senior housing association managers were damaging charities. Chief executive Adam Sampson said he was 'particularly concerned. We need to think again about the management of that sector,' he said. 'What is happening to senior pay in housing associations is beginning to impact on senior pay in charities. It becomes increasingly difficult to access good quality senior managers because if they were in the housing association sector they would get paid twice what we pay them.'
Union bosses have also become concerned after reading Inside Housing's report. Unison national secretary for local government Heather Wakefield told conference delegates: 'It is simply not justifiable for housing association chief executives to be earning a quarter of a million pounds a year as some of them now are.'
Staff who moved from councils to associations as part of stock transfers often ended up with different pay and conditions to new staff who subsequently joined the association, she said. 'That creates a two-tier workforce,' Ms Wakefield added.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said chief executives' salaries were a matter for housing association boards. They would only award a pay rise if it was responsible to do so, he added.
'Housing association chief executives manage complex social businesses, with assets worth millions of pounds,' he said. 'Chief executive salaries in the housing association sector are still dwarfed by their equivalents in the private sector.'