Sunday, 20 April 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The PAC said contracts were inappropriate and out of date, staff were ill-equipped to manage contracts and repairs jobs were not being inspected to make sure they were carried out properly.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

  • Minister told to stand down over NIHE contracts

    8 July 2013

    The Northern Irish social development minister has been told he should step down while allegations of political interference at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive are investigated.

  • NIHE launches repairs review

    24/05/2013

    The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has launched an independent review into its procurement and management processes for maintenance contracts following the collapse of a firm responsible for repairs in more than 10,800 homes.

  • Collapsed contracts cost executive £100k a month

    14/06/2013

    The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is paying more than £100,000 a month in additional wages after taking on 67 employees following the collapse of four response maintenance contracts.

  • 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.

  • Homeless teenagers failed by councils

    21/06/2013

    Councils are failing to fulfil their legal duties to homeless 16 and 17-year-olds five years after a landmark High Court ruling made their responsibilities clear.

Resources

  • Managing expectations

    6 June 2013

    With landlords under pressure to demonstrate value for money, Stuart McBride, from law firm TLT, examines how to address poor employee performance

  • 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

  • Energy efficient

    10 May 2013

    Landlords should carefully consider energy efficient offers that are likely to come their way, says Patrick Sweeney

  • Protecting the vulnerable

    19/07/2013

    Homeless legislation should change to reflect the truly ‘vulnerable’

  • 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