Tuesday, 3 November 2015


Carol Matthews
and a housing
association that
may be sold off

The gathering storm over housing associations threatens to engulf them completely.

A couple of weeks ago, housing association boss Carol Matthews was saying that she  wanted  some changes as it was estimated £100 million would be lost by her organisation in the next four years.

She said she wished to articulate a new vision for her association.

Sadly, the Government has a different vision to articulate. Mrs Matthews now faces the possibility that her feet will be swept from under her amid today`s speculation that the government plans to sell off all housing associations.

Or it may nationalise them.

The speculation has led to a very worrying week for Ms Matthews, Chief Executive of  the Liverpool-based Riverside Housing Association and to the other associations,

At the end of the week their worst fears were realised. An Office for National  Statistics review  concluded that English housing associations are   now part of the public sector, sparking  worries  that the government would  now seek to limit or control the borrowing of the associations, according to the well-informed  social housing magazine, Inside Housing.
Image result for nick clegg pictureThis reclassification would remove a potential barrier to the government nationalising associations, Inside Housing added.

The week of shocks started with the revelation by Nick Clegg(left) that five years ago the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government talked the Conservatives out of cutting social housing rents.

The former Liberal Democrat leader, in a newspaper column  said that while in government he managed to stop the Conservatives from “fiddling with social housing rents to reduce the benefit bill”.

He said this would have had a “disastrous effect on the ability of housing associations to raise money to build new homes”.

Mr Clegg said the Liberal Democrats had agreed to a cut in rents, as long as associations were given a clear guarantee of rent levels for the next 15 years. He said: “Within weeks of assuming power this year the Conservatives tore up that ‘guarantee’, undermining [housing associations’] financial stability.”

There was an apparent government vendetta against housing associations, said Mr Clegg .

As the week went on, and more restrictive government measures were announced, Emma Maier (below)  the editor of Inside Housing had this to say:
Image result for Emma Maier  picture

"This government`s approach could probably best be described as `system disruption`:forcing change by tearing up the rule book and throwing the pages in nthe air so that, at the very least, they land in a different order. It is destructive and undoubtedly painful for landlords and tenants"

That is true. But is this sort of system disruption anything new to Ms. Mathews` leaseholders and tenants? It is not new.

Ms. Matthews should reflect on this as she struggles with the Government`s system disruption, tearing up the rule book and throwing pages in the air.  She should  remember the behaviour of her own organization a dozen years ago.

At that time, Riverside swept into Carlisle to take over the city`s 7,000 former council homes, armed with exactly that policy of system disruption and tearing up the rule book.

A new bossy Riverside regime was installed, tenant groups and long-established community groups were dumped and their supporting grants withdrawn.

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation which was one of the groups targeted and threatened by Riverside at the time, has been fighting against  Riverside`s authoritarian regime ever since.

To the struggling Ms Matthews fighting against the government`s gathering storm over housing associations the federation says this:

Now, you are getting a taste of what your organisation has been dishing out for years. 

CarlisleTenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803.

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