Wednesday, 6 April 2016

STRAINS SHOWING ON HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS



Get real Riverside,
and  abandon
your bossy
ways

There are more perils ahead  as Riverside Housing Association struggles  in Carlisle and in Maidstone, 300 miles away. Riverside has been warned to end its bossy and inefficient ways.

In  Carlisle the county town of Cumbria, there are  now new job cuts... an additional 11,  this time from the maintenance team after the  22 job losses through the  closure of Riverside`s Careline  telephone support network for the elderly and vulnerable.And the number of staff working in  Riverside`s Carlisle head office has been cut  by 18 through re-deployment.


Maidstone town centre

In Maidstone the county town of Kent, the  angry tenants who have formed the Tenants Against Riverside organisation are stepping up  their campaign via the web site they themselves have created.

News of the job cuts has led to speculation that   Riveside may soon close its  Carlisle office and run its 6,000 Carlisle  houses and flats from the Liverpool head office 100 miles away. It did the same thing  last year when administration of the 300 leaseholder properties was moved from Carlisle to Liverpool.

Politically, these Riverside problems are being highlighted  in the run-up to the May local elections where several  Carlisle Labour candidates support  a growing  movement to return  the Riverside houses to ownership by  the city council.

Meanwhile, storm clouds are gathering for Riverside and the 1,700 other housing associations as two influential  figures in the world of social housing  warn of perils ahead if bossy  and  inefficient  associations like Riverside do not  move into the 21st century and change their ways.

Riverside has yet to learn that it is not the lord-high-and-mighty and its tenants are not serfs.

Mathew Gardiner. Chief Executive  of the Manchester based Trafford Housing Trust writes in the social housing trade paper Inside Housing about the need for much greater accountability.

Image result for Andrew Gardiner  Trafford trust picture
Move fast...Mathew Gardiner
He writes:“In an age of greater freedom from regulation and greater transparency through technology, the strains (on housing associations) are now really starting to show.   

"We need to move fast; our reputation is inherently linked to the accountability we demonstrate for the value, and sometimes the lack of it, we create for all our stakeholders.”

Image result for Andrew Cowan Devonshires picture
New danger...Andrew Cowan
And solicitor Andrew Cowan of the old-established City of London law firm Devonshires writes  in Social Housing, another trade
paper, that there is a new danger  to housing associations from the Charity Commission. 

He says that the commission is using new powers following the scandal of  the aggressive tactics used to raise money by Age UK.

 He writes:

“As the need for public subsidy grows, housing associations are set to become significant housebuilders...But as these operations ramp up, so do new sources of potential complainants – including housebuilders themselves who may see competition against entities who do not pay tax as unfair...

“Charging higher rents to working households within a charity, could lead to allegations of profiteering....
Housing associations will need to ensure that their market and quasi-market rent businesses are clearly distinguished from their core rented activities... 

“And if housing associations want to keep their charitable status, they must continue to demonstrate that they are involved in charitable activities.”

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