The Chartered Institute of Housing has an income of £10.7 million a year – overwhelmingly money that comes from the taxpayer one way or another. Where does it come from? Housing Associations have yet to generally embrace spending transparency. But with local councils publishing spending on items over £500, the source can be identified. There is a £902 conference fee here, £1,895 for membership subs there. It all adds up to millions of pounds.
It should be stressed that the CIH's training conferences are not just a waste of money. It is worse that that. They divert housing officers from getting on with their work. Instead they go off for a course on "emotional intelligence" to improve their "self perception." If this is really worthwhile why don't they spend £210 of their own money to go rather than expecting me to pay for it? Why don't they go along in their own time? Given that this course was held on a Monday rather than a Saturday there does not seem to have been much anticipation that many would do so.
Furthermore, these events often push out the wrong messages. Thus, on anti social behaviour they stress mediation rather than eviction. That reflects the ideology of those putting on the courses. The culture of delay is promoted rather than the zero tolerance enforcement of tenancy agreements. Those who have served on housing association boards or council housing "almos" will be familiar with this misplaced "caring" approach. Those who have canvassed people who live in the same blocks as perpetrators of anti social behaviour will be equally familiar with the exasperation it causes.
Inevitably the CIH is also involved in pushing the intrusive and divisive diversity monitoring agenda. On Tuesday you could go along to a conference in order to "know why collecting equality data is important."
Instead of spending money on repairs or bringing empty homes back into use, why not send your housing officers off to London next month, at £210 a time, to reflect on how to "differentiate between equality impact assessing and equality analysis." So much more useful that paying for an engineer to come and fix the broken lift.
While the CIH is officially a charity it is one of those highly political ones. It campaigns against the Government's welfare reform. They talk about making the "case for housing" but they mean the case for more state housing – for more subsidy, dependency, drab standardised egalitarian conformity. More housing officers to pay more membership subs and attend more of their training conferences.
Why should Conservative councils authorise the spending of public money in this way?