Housing associations are starting to become more transparent about their spending. Viridian Housing will publish spending items over £500 and salaries over £50,000 from April. Herefordshire Housing are proposing to do the same, subject to the approval of their board.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
"Housing associations have a long and distinguished track record of providing the affordable homes that millions of tenants rely on.
"But with more pressure on the public purse than ever, all organisations that receive money from the taxpayer should expect to come under greater scrutiny and be willing to explain their financial decisions.
"Large amounts of public money have been invested in social housing – so tenants and the public now deserve to know if their money is being well spent."
There is an argument that housing association are private charities not public bodies. Fine but that don't complain if they cease to have funding from the taxpayer. There should be transparency over how money from the taxpayer is spent. The same should apply to the large number of other nominal charities that are largely funded by the state.
The requirement for transparency is bound to come for the housing associations and it is odd that so few are being proactive about it. Their lobby group the National Housing Federation represents 1,200 housing associations. So while it is good that two of them are being open about how they spend our money it would be good if some more came clean before they are forced to.