Let's face it. Housing associations are part of the public sector.
It would be a wonderful thing if this ceased to be the case and they operated as innovative, independent, self financing charities – rather than agents of the state machine. But in the interim, the least we should have is the same approach to greater accountability and transparency.
I am not opposed to high salaries for chief executives of housing associations or for local councils. But given that they are financed by the taxpayer and do not run organisations that operate with proper market competition, then it is right that they should be scrutinised.
Housing association bosses have had a relatively easy ride. I don't know of any council chief executive earning as much as Jane Ashcroft of the Anchor housing association. Her salary is £331,250 according to Inside Housing. On the other hand, in terms of pay per million of turnover the most expensive is Tom Mannion of the Irwell Valley Housing Association. He is on £154,425 a year – which is over £5,000 per £1 million of turnover. He uses his blog to attack transparency.
Six large housing associations, covering over 200,000 properties in total, are publishing their spending. Adactus, Hyde and Sanctuary housing associations are joining the Home Group, Viridian and Hereford Housing who already do it.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps says:
"I am delighted that Adactus, Hyde and Sanctuary will be throwing open their books to scrutiny for the first time – this is a real step forward that will increase tenants' confidence in the value for money
they receive, and help these landlords become even more efficient in what they do. I would like to congratulate them in making this huge step forward, following in the path of Whitehall and Town Halls in making their work more transparent.
"This increases the number of housing associations routinely publishing this information but still means the majority of social landlords are way behind the curve. In contrast, councils across the
country are already making this data available, so residents can see how money is spent and crack down on waste, from excessive salaries to cab fares.
"So I want to see more housing associations follow what Adactus, Hyde and Sanctuary have said they'll do and put the power of the paper trail firmly in the hands of their residents. This is now an inevitable trend that all social landlords must join."