Sunday, 29 November 2015

Appeal for information on future of inspections as ALMOs fear for funding

Landlords seek answers

Social landlords are appealing to the government for clarity on the future of housing inspection after the Audit Commission’s closure.

The Chartered Institute of Housing has written to communities secretary Eric Pickles and Audit Commission chair Michael O’Higgins for more information on the practical implications of last Friday’s decision to scrap the quango.

The CIH is particularly concerned about inspection arrangements for five arm’s-length management organisations which need a two-star rating from the commission to secure decent homes funding, and for those inspections commissioned by the Tenant Services Authority.

Mr O’Higgins said the future of housing inspection was particularly unclear given the ongoing review into regulation of the sector.

Gwyneth Taylor, policy director of the National Federation of ALMOs, said: ‘The ALMO inspection regime is different because it is about access to funding. We really need clarity about what is happening in terms of whether the ALMO inspections and re-inspections are going to take place.’

Ms Taylor also expressed concern about whether private audit firms would pick up malpractice and serious failings in the same way as the commission’s housing department has in the past with councils such as Westminster.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants has also warned that the private sector will struggle to emulate the commission’s experience and consistency. Gillian Fawcett, head of public sector, said: ‘We would be concerned if the vast wealth of experience and skills within the Audit Commission were lost during the transition period to 2012, since this would create even greater uncertainty with nothing to take its place.’

Unanswered questions

  • What will happen to inspection and regulation now that both the Audit Commission and the Tenant Services Authority are set to go?
  • Will private firms be able to uncover malpractice in the same way as the Audit Commission historically has?
  • What will happen to inspections and re-inspections booked for housing associations and ALMOs who need a two-star rating to receive funding?

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