Focus on the problem of corruption more useful than a political duel over housing models.

So, one of the stories during the week worth noting is the controversy that St Matthews’ Housing Association got itself embroiled in. At the centre of the controversy was the prioritisation of transfers over people on the wider waiting list. Former Belfast City Councillor, Joe O’Donnell in the thick of it (erm, again).

The parallels drawn by Turgon earlier in the week were not lost on Sinn Fein’s FST MP Michelle Gildernew, who made a statement critical of her party [or is that former? – Ed] colleague.

But in yesterday’s Irish News Newton Emerson notes that the more urgent implications are for the DUP’s DSD Minister Nelson McCausland, who is proposing to strip the Housing Executive of its distribution of housing remit and transfer to a new tranche of housing associations.

Seguing away from habits of the past is a great deal more challenging than just opting for new models for doing the same thing. Some account of what the current faults are, and how they might be circumvented must be made.

Two points worth highlighting:

  • Public money remains public money even if it gets pushed off the public balance sheet.
  • Current accounting practices mean that public money is enormously open to being ‘gamed’ (though ‘creamed off’ might be a better term for it) when it ‘interfaces’ with private capital.

A greater focus on the problem of corruption (both major and minor) might be more useful than some entertaining political duel over housing models.

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