Local authorities and housing crisis

 

Sir, – I would like to point out to Donal McManus, the chief executive of the Irish Council for Social Housing, that the staff of local authorities have no intention of handing over the building or the management of social housing to housing associations (“Should the State stop building social housing?”, Analysis, February 6th).

He asserts that “housing associations are agile, innovative, more single-purpose than local authorities”.

As a frontline member of staff in a busy urban local authority, I reject these assertions. My colleagues and I provide a quality service to all the members of the public that we serve. We are proud to do so, despite the targeted attacks by successive governments on the resources available to local authorities.

Integral to this attack is the promotion of housing associations as an alternative to the role traditionally played by local authorities. Housing associations are correctly seen as part of the privatisation agenda by those of who believe that local authorities are accountable through the oversight role of the elected members.

On the other hand, housing associations are private bodies that are governed by a board of directors who are not accountable to the general public.

Another aspect of the growing role of housing associations in the delivery of public housing is the replacement of jobs with public service terms and conditions with contracts of employment that have far poorer terms and conditions.

As has been proven in the past, local authorities can deliver public housing if they are given the resources.

The ideology of replacing direct provision by local authorities with housing associations is a privatisation agenda that seeks to remove the State from the direct delivery of public services and replace it with unaccountable quangos and private bodies.

Local authorities can do the job of public housing provision if they are given the resources and ensure that a vital service is provided in an accountable manner and employ motivated staff with the best terms and conditions. Housing associations can never deliver this. – Yours, etc,

DONAL GUERIN,

Ballincollig, Co Cork.