Wednesday, 20 November 2013



A lot of criticism has been levelled at housing associations and the way they do things... secrecy and lack of accountability, particularly.
Now, housing associations are accused of being positively harmful.

Jon Zigmond
Mr.Jon Zigmond,  a partner for many years in one of the top international firms of auditors makes this accusation in a letter to the Financial Times.
Mr Zigmond,  now retired, says that housing associations should not  now have any greater role than others in the push for more housing. They  already benefit from cheap money, he says. He goes on:
“Housing associations exhibit mixed behaviour. Unlike elected local councils which know their decisions will be considered by voters at regular intervals, the boards of housing associations have no accountability.
”They face no competition and have huge powers to decide who should  and who should not have the very selective benefit of cheaper rents.
“With a limited supply of houses it is important that what is built is what is needed. The housing market provides that. A decision by an unelected body does not.
“ And with a limited supply of housing, designating some housing as social simply increases the cost of free market housing. So the chosen few receive a very valuable benefit to the detriment of others, not chosen but who are otherwise in almost the same position.”
This sort of thing has been said for years by the community group, Carlisle Tenants` and Residents Federation. Admittedly,  the Federation never put the case in such a scholarly fashion as Mr Zigmond.
But what he has to say  in the broad field of national housing is equally true on the housing estates of Carlisle where the unfair policies of  the giant Riverside Housing Association are well entrenched.
No competition, huge powers and  no accountability are  the main features of those policies. As  for the chosen few referred to by Mr. Zigmond, the Federation has fought for years  against another chosen few,  those who benefit from Riverside`s grossly unfair policy of help for some community groups and no help for others.
This fight will continue until Riverside respects all communities-not just the favourites- and starts to fall in line with the present government`s localism legislation

Mr Zigmond`s home is in the village of Rosedale Abbey, North Yorkshire. He was 34 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the world`s Big Four auditors.

Community Voice Carlisle is the blog of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation. Information about the Federation is contained in the first post of the blog, dated March 25 2013.

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