Community-based housing organisations and the local governance debate

Clapham, D. and Kintrea, K. (2000) Community-based housing organisations and the local governance debate. Housing Studies, 15(4), pp. 533-559. (doi: 10.1080/02673030050081096)

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This paper examines criticisms of the accountability of housing organisations in Britain and assesses whether community-based housing organisations can provide answers. A particular focus is placed on the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which has emphasised the desirability of 'downwards' accountability to communities while at the same time limiting the central controls of autonomous local bodies. The Committee on Standards in Public Life was established in 1994 by the former Prime Minister, John Major. It was a response to concern about standards of conduct among public office holders, including Members of Parliament, but also all other office holders in central and local government, and in other bodies discharging public functions. Its remit is to investigate current arrangements and make recommendations about changes required to ensure the highest standards of propriety in public life. The paper reports on the governance of community-based housing organisations (CBHOs) in Glasgow, which was investigated by means of housing surveys and interviews with key actors. It finds that in many respects the criticisms of extra-governmental housing organisations do not apply: they are regarded as legitimate and trustworthy by local people to a much greater extent than the local authority and other institutions. They attract active local participation and there are effective mechanisms to ensure that their 'governors' are accountable. What is more, they have maintained their position over a period of more than 10 years. However, the CBHOs have been much less successful in shaping their own destinies, in contrast to extra-governmental housing organisations in England. They are, in reality, dependent rather than autonomous and their power is very limited in comparison to the government agency and local authority with whom they interact. The paper concludes that the CBHOs have been a successful policy innovation which offers real gains for communities and also allows local authorities and central government agencies to pursue their objectives. However, their small scale, which is important in their success as locally-accountable bodies, in turn makes them vulnerable to centralised control.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kintrea, Professor Keith
Authors: Clapham, D., and Kintrea, K.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Housing Studies
Publisher:Taylor and Francis (Routledge)
ISSN (Online):1466-1810

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