Thursday, 28 August 2014

Watchdog slates housing repairs service

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has been slated for management and accountability failings that have dogged its repairs and maintenance services.

A damning report published by the Northern Irish Government’s public accounts committee today said the NIHE ‘failed in its duties’ to properly manage contracts for repairs works.

It was also critical of the Department for Social Development, which is responsible for overseeing the NIHE, which it said was unaware of many of the problems within the organisation.

The PAC said contracts were inappropriate and out of date, staff were ill-equipped to manage contracts and repairs jobs were not being inspected to make sure they were carried out properly. It said it was ‘very likely’ that performance data for contractors was being manipulated.

Michaela Boyle, chair of the PAC, said: ‘We know that most NIHE staff overseeing those businesses contracted to respond to maintenance needs are diligent and hard working.

‘However, we found that the management and oversight of this service has been abjectly poor – so poor that it calls into question the capability and competence of management within the NIHE over many years, particularly at a senior level.

‘We would even go so far as to say that it would appear that some members of senior management actively undermined the systems of control that had been put in place.’

The report said the NIHE discouraged staff from raising concerns.

The PAC published a list of 10 recommendations for the NIHE to act upon, including launching an investigation into weaknesses in contract management and forcing the senior management team to tell staff that the organisation is ‘not a cold place’ for whistleblowers.

The NIHE declined to comment on the report.

Newsletter Sign-up

More Newsletters

Related

Articles

  • Settlement reached in Northern Ireland contracts scandal

    5 August 2014

    The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) has reached a settlement with contractors over its longrunning overpayments scandal.

  • Union accuses NIHE of health and safety failings

    11/10/2013

    The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has pledged to ‘fully investigate’ any health and safety failings after some of its contractors were accused of ‘flagrant’ breaches by a union.

  • Review of 2013

    20/12/2013

    From the introduction of welfare reforms, new housing ministers and a string of executive payout scandals, it’s been an eventful year for the sector. Inside Housing reflects on the biggest stories of 2013

  • Row erupts over repair allegations

    21 November 2013

    Cutbacks in staffing at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive led to ‘serious failings’ in the management of maintenance contracts, a report has found.

  • Drop in number of Northern Irish landlords failing inspection

    6 November 2013

    Only three housing associations have failed inspections in Northern Ireland in 2012/13, in an ‘encouraging’ year for the sector.

Resources

  • Room for procurement savings

    14/03/2014

    Scotland’s social housing sector is still dogged by the spectre of unnecessary procurement costs but it could save up to £42 million per year

  • Bringing a post office back into the community

    07/03/2014

    Much to the delight of the local people, Scottish Borders Housing Association has opened a Post Office at its headquarters in Bannerfield, the first ever branch outside a retail unit. Maria Brett reports on the initiative

  • Room for dignity

    14/02/2014

    A new toolkit aims to help smaller housing associations address the needs of residents suffering from dementia. Caroline Thorpe reports

  • Home sweet home

    06/06/2014

    Viridian Housing is training its staff to recognise signs of domestic abuse and to support affected tenants. Kate Youde finds out how

  • Reaching crisis point

    02/05/2014

    Tenants on the verge of eviction are being helped to remain in their homes by a recently formed social enterprise that is saving their landlords significant sums in the process. Daniel Douglas finds out how

IH Subscription