Report slams contracts at 90,000-home landlord
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is rife with ‘governance deficiencies’ and has no culture of accountability, according to a report.
The Northern Ireland Audit Office has published a report to the Northern Ireland Assembly on maintenance contracts at the 90,000-home landlord today, following revelations that there were serious failings in the management of contracts and in work carried out.
The damning report is the latest in a series that have uncovered a range of problems at the Housing Executive. The Northern Ireland Assembly placed the organisation under supervision in early July after receiving an unpublished report on its management of repairs contracts, and the Audit Office released a report questioning its financial management a few days later.
In July, social development minister Nelson McCausland said the NIHE had ‘considerable issues’ with contractual governance and the quality of its repairs, with poor quality work not being checked and jobs not billed correctly.
Mr McCausland commissioned an investigation following the termination of a maintenance agreement with contractor Red Sky after allegations of poor performance.
Today’s report from the Audit Office says the problems were indicative of ‘wider governance deficiencies’ and have ‘implications for other areas of expenditure’.
‘[The report] also concludes that the weaknesses in the Housing Executive’s assessment, reporting and oversight of response maintenance contracts left it exposed to impropriety and fraud. While concerns about response maintenance contracts had been evident within NIHE over a long period, it failed to effectively address these,’ the report states.
It says there was no culture of accountability, and that the reporting of serious concerns within the organisation is poor.
Kieran Donnelly, comptroller and auditor general, said: ‘Over the five years to 2011, the Housing Executive has spent more than £200 million on response maintenance. My review found serious weaknesses in the management of the contracts governing this expenditure.’
The Housing Executive declined to comment at this time.