HL Deb 20 February 1989 vol 504 c495WA
Baroness Blatch

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will publish the report on effectiveness of housing management which the Department of the Environment commissioned from the Centre for Housing Research, Glasgow University.

The Earl of Caithness

Copies of the report have been placed in the Library today. It shows that authorities and associations housed the same kinds of people and provided similar kinds of services, although their scale of operation was different.

While the report concludes that there is no general crisis in the management of social rented housing, there were considerable variations between the best and the worst performers among both local authorities and associations. In both cases quality of management was the key to their performance as a landlord. Housing associations were found to have more satisfied tenants in better maintained homes but they spent more to achieve this. Some of the best of both types of landlord operated very economically in the most difficult circumstances.

However, tenants of authorities and associations saw scope for improved services. They wanted more local offices, better repairs services and more genuine consultation by their landlords. A substantial minority were willing to pay more for better services.

This report has important messages for all committee members and housing staff in authorities and associations. Although it is reassuring to know that a majority of tenants were satisfied with the services provided by their landlords, many tenants were not, and they found it difficult to influence their landlords: quite simply landlords do not listen enough. Moreover, many authorities and associations fail to keep in mind the need to be effective, efficient and economical. The measures in the recent Housing Act and current Bill are designed to address these problems directly.

It emerged clearly that tenants wanted better contacts and services and that local managers were more effective but no more expensive than those working from the Town Hall. This is a message which the department has been promoting for a decade, through the Priority Estates Project and Estate Action.

We shall be exploring with the Housing Corporation how associations' management efficiency can best be monitored and improved, and also how the widespread public ignorance of housing associations revealed by the report can be overcome.

We congratulate Professor Maclennan and his team on producing a report which sheds much light on the future of social rented housing and will help all those concerned to move forward on a better informed basis.