Housing Executive out of control according to Stormont’s PAC…

This is interesting, not least in the light of the Red Sky controversy and the DUP Minister’s subsequent decision to stripe the Housing Executive of its powers…

It found that there was a culture within the Housing Executive that discouraged staff from raising concerns, including the use of IT to attempt to identify an anonymous whistle-blower.

Ms Boyle said: “The practices we found give the impression that staff who raise concerns in the course of their work or in a whistle-blowing capacity will not be supported or protected.

“I want to put this on the record – discouraging whistle-blowing or creating the perception that whistle-blowers are not welcome is simply unacceptable.”

Last year’s audit came after the Housing Executive’s contract with the Red Sky maintenance company was terminated in 2011.

This followed claims of substandard work and financial irregularities.

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  • McCausland is more interested in abloshing the name than reforming the system, which could be done perfectly well with the name. The HE is an embarassment and a reproach to unionist corruption in housing.

  • Mick Fealty

    Erm, how? It was established in the first place to isolate housing from political control of any type, surely?

  • Exactly, Mick. When I worked over there I had to deal with them quite a bit and I always found the staff dedicated and smart. It’s a pity if they really have lost their way but that’s about par for large NGOs I guess.

  • 6crealist

    “It was established in the first place to isolate housing from political control of any type, surely?”

    Mick are you serious or just being deliberately obtuse?

    Do you have any pre-1971 examples of maladministration of public housing stock by nationalist/Catholic politicians in Northern Ireland?

  • Comrade Stalin

    6crealist um, where did Mick say anything of the sort ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks CS. The HE did a lot of good work throughout the Troubles. Heroic at times. But the Red Sky controversy opened up the problem of widespread reliance on large contractors who were clearly operating without proper controls.

    I’m not sure what’s being put in its place is an optimal solution but there’s no denying there was a problem.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick, agreed. No doubt there is corruption; proper controls should be sufficient to resolve this. But I fear as Daniel says that there are some who, with only a sliver of justification, perceive the agency as a nationalist-leaning institution which needs to be cut back to size.

  • 6crealist

    Mick

    your comment is isolation makes sense: but it wasn’t made in isolation. It was directed at danielsmoran.

    “The HE is an embarassment and a reproach to unionist corruption in housing.”

    To which you replied: “Erm, how? It was established in the first place to isolate housing from political control of any type, surely?”

    Yes, I agree: but it was primarily established, as danielsmoran pointed out, after years of unionist misrule: that’s a point that you deliberately obscure.

  • 6crealist

    Actually, if your comment was in response to the first part of his comment then I apologise for getting the wrong end of the stick.

  • aquifer

    “Do you have any pre-1971 examples of maladministration of public housing stock by nationalist/Catholic politicians in Northern Ireland?”

    The report that looked into housing discrimination found that both Nationalists and Unionists discriminated in favour of their own. In part they seemed to view social housing as ‘pennies from heaven’ that could be distributed regardless of need. Unionists dominated so did more of it.

    Sorry if the truth is a bit inconvenient.

  • Here’s how it worked in Strabane. There was a list published on the Townhall public notice board giving the names of people who had applied for public housing. When you got married, you took a copy of the Marriage Certificate to the office. They added your name to the bottom of the list. When a house became available, the person at the top of the list got it and so you knew exactly where you stood.

  • I’ve looked at that BBC web-page; there are links to earlier BBC reports but no links to the location of the primary source material: PAC reports and NIAO reports. Even if the report has not yet been posted online at least readers should be able to locate it later.

    PAC reports are quite well catalogued whereas only the last three NIAO ones are readily accessible.

    The BBC and the NIAO could do better – in the interests of transparency and better government.

  • My 10:54 am post was noted by the Northern Ireland Audit Office and an official was sufficiently concerned to provide an explanation by 3:20 pm. I’ve just sent the following reply:

    Many thanks for providing this explanation. I think I’ve now figured out the reason why I struggled. I came in search of a report, the front page references ‘Recent Reports’ so I expected to be able to follow a title trail that would include ‘Report’. I clicked on ‘Publications’, saw the reference to ‘Guides’ but didn’t make the connection to ‘Reports’; I presumed that these ‘Publications’ related to guidance rather than to investigation. Closer inspection shows that ‘Recent Reports’ on the front page morphs into ‘Recent Publications’ under ‘Publications’.

    Perhaps ‘could do better’ jogged memories of school reports! Thinks were not so bad as I feared but there’s still some ‘room for improvement’.

    Assisting whistle-blowers is an important aspect of ‘open, accessible and accountable government’ so I sometimes get a bit frustrated when I open documents that are unsearchable or that can’t have snippets cut for easy quotation. This blog contains an example where the NIAO responds positively to my criticisms and suggestions.

  • 6realist[9.40]’that’s a point you deliberately obscure’ It was ever thus. I find that catholic bloggers from Nrth Down always bend over backward to give unionists the benefit of doubt.