Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Chickens home to roost?

The procurement directive is now set to affect Somerset social housing. An issue first flagged up by Booker in his column on 11 July, and covered in this Blog, it has now been picked up by Somerset’s Western Gazette which has reported in its latest edition “EU housing directive gets blood boiling”.

Pity about the headline because it is the procurement directive we are talking about. According to the Gazette:

Councillors and housing associations have told the government to face down a
European Commission Directive that threatens investment in social housing in
south Somerset. The National Housing Federation claims the directive will mean
South Somerset Homes being forced to advertise and accept tenders for public
service contracts from across Europe, in an often time-consuming and overly
bureaucratic process.
The group claims the directive will divert investment earmarked for social housing into costly and unnecessary bureaucratic activities for no additional benefit; threaten local job creation strategies by preventing targeted investment in local areas; and frustrate the Government's efficiency agenda for the sector. It also fears that it will also undermine the independent status of the housing association sector.

Full marks go to South Somerset District Council's own executive member for health, housing and social Inclusion Ric Pallister, who said the rules would force registered social landlords to negotiate a "bureaucratic minefield". He said: "This is an unnecessary, unwarranted, unwelcome and ill conceived ruling that will not generate healthy competition between providers but will force Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) into significant expense in a bureaucratic minefield.

"It will not be in the best interests of the tenants. There are very clear reasons why in the UK, Housing Associations such as South Somerset Homes, are registered with and regulated by the Housing Corporation, the government organisation responsible for overseeing the provision of affordable housing”.

Tory district councillor Mike Lewis also added his ha’porth: "As far as I am concerned affordable homes is a key priority for us. "This is going to prevent funds for affordable housing from coming through to communities in south Somerset or any district in England and it is not good news for us”.

Richard Clark, chairman of the English National Housing Federation, then put the boot in, saying: "The only possible outcome of this decision is that time and money which could have been used to provide better homes and services for residents will instead now be spent filling out forms for Brussels."

Needless to say, the officials claimed there was no problem. A spokesman for South Somerset Homes said: "We will have to analyse the details in the EU directive on affordable housing. We are confident we will be able to ensure that it does not have any adverse impact on our plans to deliver 2,500 new homes over the next ten years."

Yea, yea, yea… read the Blog report again to see what has caused this mess.

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