Magazine article Public Finance

Councils 'Should Not Use HRA as Excuse for Poor Services'

Magazine article Public Finance

Councils 'Should Not Use HRA as Excuse for Poor Services'

Article excerpt

The failings of the housing finance system must not be used by local authority landlords as an excuse for poor performance, the head of the new tenants' watchdog said this week.

Peter Marsh, the Tenant Services Authority chief executive, backed calls for urgent reform of the housing revenue account but added that councils should not overlook the need to provide a quality service in the meantime.

Speaking at a CIPFA seminar on local government finance in London on December 11, Marsh regretted that judgements over whether local authorities offer their tenants value for money tended to be clouded by the HRA'.

A speedy outcome to the government's HRA review was needed, he added, so that councils could enjoy the same freedom as housing associations, with the potential to use rent income to help fund house building.

'We need to understand the difference between housing association, local authority and arm's-length management organisation finance,' he told Public Finance before the seminar.

Marsh admitted the outcome of the review could upset people, but said it was vital to look at how councils cross-subsidised one another through the HRA, and how some of the money collected in rents was 'perceived' to be taken by the Treasury. …

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