Figures from around the housing world tell us what they made of the report into the Corporation's handling of Ujima's collapse
“It’s all very well saying that no public money or private loans had to be written off – really that’s just a technical accounting point. The truth is that tens of millions, which could have been spent on homes, neighbourhoods or services, have been squandered. This was all public funding, one way or another. It is astonishing that the Corporation allowed itself to be bullied and bamboozled in this way. Ujima seem to have run rings round the regulators, who were far too worried about the cost and inconvenience of possible litigation. There was plentiful evidence that things were going wrong at an early stage.I really don’t buy this point that the Corporation’s legal powers are inadequate at the moment. That sounds like a lame excuse. Of course the powers could be improved, and will be in the new legislation. But even now, the Corporation can compel the production of documents and appoint Board members. That would have been a good start. And if all else failed, they could have started an Inquiry into misconduct and mismanagement, and then taken action. I wonder what action will now be taken against the individuals whose judgement has so clearly and devastatingly been called into question. Although this was a major catastrophe for housing associations, the report reveals that it could have been even worse if the cavalry (also known as London and Quadrant) hadn’t been around to ride to the rescue. Let’s hope the next big financial problem case isn’t too big for a sector based rescue as well.”
Martin Cave, author of "Every Tenant Matters", the report which triggered the replacement of the Housing Corporation with the Tenant Services Authority:"The approach to regulation which my report proposed and which has basically been implemented in the legislation adopts a different approach. Where there is no problem then there is very little interaction between the regulator and the housing provider which is just allowed to get on with it. But when there are difficulties there is an escalating scale of measures that the regulator is entitled to take and the regulator would move up the ladder as its investigation developed and it uncovered problems. I am suggesting the basic approach under the new regime is all designed to both leave the good ones alone and be able to act decisively when problems arise. We cannot legislate how regulators will behave but they will have the tools."
Aman Dalvi, chief executive of Ujima until 2002:"My view is the Housing Corporation could have acted faster as the report specifies and if they had done so it is possibile Ujima could have remained solvent. The Housing Corporation have made major changes so we have to see how that goes into the future. There's probably a view now that at the Housing Corporation that they need to be a bit more proactive so in the recommendations in the Housing Corporation response to the Ujima inquiry it seems to say they will need a more interventionist approach. Clearly with the credit crunch and some organisations face difficulties that require quick intervention."
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