SFHA denies letting down break away members

SFHA denies letting down break away members

Third Force News

SCOTLAND’S largest housing body has defended itself against allegations that it has failed to support community housing organisations in Glasgow.

The move comes after 12 community-based housing associations left the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, citing a lack of support as one of the reasons for their departure.

They include Drumchapel, Milnbank, Wellhouse, Copperworks, Blochaim, New Gorbals, Blairtummock, Gardeen, Spire View, Ruchazie, Provanhall and Glen Oaks. The departures are expected to cost the federation £85,000 a year in membership dues.

Norman Fitzpatrick, assistant director of New Gorbals Housing Association, said that organisations in Glasgow were unsatisfied with the level of support from the SFHA, despite the fact that housing associations in Glasgow accounted for a large proportion of the federation’s membership.

‘Dissatisfaction with the SFHA has been brewing for some time,’ he said, ‘but this was not a concerted or planned revolt. Other organisations had different reasons for leaving but we felt that we had been let down in terms of the federation’s support for second stage stock transfer and a general lack presence in Glasgow.’

He added: ‘It takes 00-65 of its membership revenue from the city, but still does not allocate any specific staff to Glasgow. We felt we could use our £11,000 membership better.’

Another director on the list of those who have left who did not want to be named said the SFHA’s relationship with Glasgow Housing Association, the voluntary sector successor to Glasgow Council, was causing as conflict of priorities.

He said: ‘I understand that the SFHA is caught between a rock and a hard place as it represents both us and the GHA. But that is something which has to be addressed if we are to be supported in our efforts to make sure the GHA fulfils its statutory obligations and divests management responsibility to local housing organisations.’

A spokesman for the SFHA said it was currently working to bring the organisation closer to its members but denied that it had failed in its support.

‘In fact we do have one member of staff who is dedicated to work that is specifically Glasgow-based -and which has included, for example, the establishment of our Glasgow Consultative Network, which has been an extremely well-received new forum for our members.”

But in addition, we are presently engaged in a process of governance change, which is designed to bring us closer to our members -in Glasgow and across the country.

‘The complexity of the second stage transfer process, and the way it has stalled, has been an enormous frustration to us as well as to our members.’

He continued: ‘Nobody expected that, three years on, not one single house would have been transferred. We are keen to play a part -indeed we think we have a unique role to play -in breaking that logjam. But to do so we need an active engagement and ongoing dialogue with all housing associations and LHOs in the city about how the process can be made to work.

‘That is exactly why we are involved in this programme of urgent discussions with our members and ex-members. The disappointment for us is that this is made more difficult when housing associations disaffiliate and thereby create potential barriers to such dialogue.

‘Surely it is better to work together as a sector; we are stronger if we are united.’

The spokesman added that the SFHA was still in dialogue with every one of the housing associations with a view to persuading them to return.