Thursday, 24 April 2014

Housing associations should report 'social value'

Housing associations should be legally required to report on the social value they generate and be the subject of a ‘right to challenge’ from tenants, a think tank has suggested.

Respublica, in a report out today entitled Acting on Localism: the role of housing associations in driving a community agenda, argued that government can deliver on its localism agenda by ‘harnessing housing associations to meet local needs’.

It said while communities do not have the resources to benefit from localism, housing associations do. It argued that housing associations should integrate their ‘social role’ into their business model and report on their social impact.

The government should extend the Public Services (Social Value) Act, to require associations to produce evidence of their social investment and returns it generates for communities, which should be determined by the community itself, the report argued.

Pete Duncan, co-author of the report, said: ‘Localism to date has not capitalised on existing resources and local actors.

‘Housing associations have a presence and a vested interest in almost every neighbourhood. They have the skills, capacity and resources to be bolder and more radical for the benefit of residents and wider communities.’

The report also calls for the government to extend the Tenant Empowerment Programme to include non-tenants and for housing associations to compile an asset register revealing opportunities for potential community ownership.

Readers' comments (20)

  • Rick Campbell

    Housing associations SHOULD report lots of things including where the money has gone -- so that tenants can see there is nowt to hide and nowt being hidden .... but that's just too darned simple!

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  • Peter Wicks

    They should also tell the tenants how MUCH they paid the councils for the roof over your heads and the SUM they ask you to pay if you ask to buy the same roof over your head....quite a sick bunch of crooks
    who now run HA's.........

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  • raindrop

    Tenant Enpowerment Programme not with mega housing trust

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  • Gavin Rider

    Peter - while I share your venom towards some Housing Associations who seem to put their tenants last in the list of priorities, the price of housing is always going to be contentious.

    Asset transfers in business handovers often take place for a nominal sum because of the debt and ongoing obligations that the assets are combined with. That would not mean that the housing assets could be sold on to tenants for similar nominal sums.

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  • Usual Suspect

    Horrible idea .
    Loads of effort will go into making up values to assign and it adds nothing to the efforts of HA's to achieve their goals.

    VFM is enough

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  • Peter Wicks

    Thanks Gavin...By using the FOA I did find out how much my HA paid the authority that they were part of(in house council owned HA) and its no wonder they kept it from the public domain. £8k per property regardless of size and back in 2003 the average price was £140k per home...The HA paid just over £50million for our council homes, but the book price was near one billion pounds!!!!!....to me that is theft on a grand scale...

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  • paul smith

    The think tank has is right (for once!!) Associations receive and spend huge amounts of money and should be accountable and demonstrate the impact socially and the impact it makes .This DOES NOT require a great deal of effort as their are plenty of recognised models available to undertake this task . But how is this for a suggestion in a truly Co Regulation way ,let the Residents decide how Social Impact is measured !

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  • If Government adopts this then HAs will be diverting resources into vast amounts of data collection and analysis--just when we need to put more resources into dealing with Welfare reforms !
    But as its from Camerons favourite think-tank then it probably will be adopted !
    Just remember, HAs are NOT " Public Bodies "--they are private registered providers and if Goverment keeps treating HAs as public bodies then soon the ONS will re-categorise all HA debt as public sector borrowing !--that'll really help the Coilitions performance won't it !!

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    If one accepts the premise of this Think Tank then surely the same should apply to any business with access to funds. For instance, a local employer generating a return for shareholders could instead be compelled to spend that money on social investment on the basis that the community cannot afford to do so.

    If it is acceptable for housing associations to use surplus tenant rents to fund wider community schemes then it is as acceptable for any private business to be forced to do the same.

    Of course, there is a simpler way to make this happen - that would be to tax businesses and use the funds raised to provide those things that communities can no longer afford - but then wasn't it the pressing need to cut business taxation that bought us to this point in the first place.

    Meanwhile - it is appalling that on the one hand tenants are viewed as demons in our midsts but on the other hand are viewed as cash cows to be milked within an inch of their lives in order to fund services for the 'less demonic' folk otherwise known as the community. Tenants already fund the community through community taxation and income taxation. Rents are for housing services.

    Paul - the huge sums you say HA's recieve would be for development (and more of that is loans repaid from rental income than grant from the taxpayer) - the proof of thier spending is in the homes they produce with those funds.

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  • I have a dream,One day all H/A's will be totally transparent and open to scrutiny Ah well dream on

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