Monday, 27 July 2015

Transparency of housing associations

Jac o' the North is obsessed that the housing association Cantref thrives on importing "white trash" to north Wales. He wants to know more about the HA's finances. Looking beyond his views about English incomers (of which I was one nearly fifty years ago), he has a point:

Naturally I tried to make enquiries into Cantref’s financial health, but unless you’re prepared to pay through the nose for them there’s no way of getting the figures. The problem is the status of housing associations. If they were charities then it would be a simple matter to visit the Charity Commission website and get the latest accounts gratis. If they were companies then it would be easy to get a financial picture from any number of sites, and pay for specific documents. These would also be available – and usually cheaper – on the Companies House website.
But because housing associations are Industrial and Provident Societies, registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies and Credit Unions Act 1965 it means they are registered with, but not regulated by, theFinancial Services Authority, which then means you have to apply for any document you want and the cost becomes prohibitive.

It is surely illogical that HAs which, if not for their social function, would rank as medium to large enterprises are not as open to financial inspection by members of the public. There is more of a public interest in HAs than in commercial organisations of a similar size.

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