Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ujima and the Housing Corporation: why stricter regulation may not be the answer

Along with the news that Oftenant will be given the catchy title of the Tenant Services Authority, last week's Inside Housing carried a feature on the fall of Ujima (pdf available). The article asked "Why didn't anyone step in?" and set out the warning signals in the run-up to the first housing association to go bust.

The magazine highlighted that over the last five years the Housing Corporation's regulation staff shrank by 31% and its investment (i.e. funding) staff reduced by 26%. This apparently reflected the demands of the Gershon "efficiency agenda" – fewer staff were overseeing the expansion of funding in new social housing.

There are some echoes with the Financial Services Authority’s handling of Northern Rock. As the Economist noted when discussing that case in March: “Writing more rules may do more harm than good if the regulator is unable to enforce them”.

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