QUESTIONS were asked at a scrutiny committee about whether it’s economical to share nearly £14.5 million between eight housing associations, (HA).

Powys County Council (PCC) has eight partner HA that build social housing across the county.

Officers at the Economy, Residents, Communities and Governance Scrutiny Committee, think having eight partners works well.

They believe  it gives the authority more choice.

Cllr E Michael Jones (Independent – Old Radnor) said: “We have an ample supply of HAs, who decides how many operate in a local authority area?

“As it strikes me, they all have overheads and unnecessary costs.

“I’m wondering if we’re oversupplied and the money is going to running bureaucracies rather than building houses?”

Affordable housing officer Terry Flynn, explained: “It used to be Welsh Government.

“When I started 12 years ago there used to be consortia of associations and there were five of them and Welsh Government zoned which ones could work in which counties.

“The reason we have so many is because four consortia zone areas overlapped in to Powys.”

Mr Flynn added  “We have a sort of gentlemen’s agreement in the areas they work in and it does work well.

“An example of this was a development site touted around all the housing associations – at a  joint meeting it was brought up.

“One HA said they were looking at site X – six other hands went up and said so are we.

“They all made the decision not to touch the site – as the owners were trying to sell to the highest bidder.

“So they do work well together.”

Due to the need for extra care accommodation the grant for housing associations will be temporarily reduced.

Mr Flynn said the HAs have other options as they can build a mixture of housing on any given site while PCC can only build council houses.

“We don’t want to see very large developments of social housing we don’t want to go back to the 50s and 60s and big council estates – what we are trying to do is use different funding streams to build multi-tenure developments,” said Mr Flynn.

Housing solutions manager, Dafydd Evans added: “The advantage is that we can compare how effective and efficient the housing associations are, there is a bit of a market, some local authorities only have one housing association in their area.

“We can compare costs of development and can challenge if one is developing at £120,000 a property and another is at £130,000 – there are advantages.”

Portfolio Holder for Corporate Governance, Housing & Public Protection Cllr James Evans (Conservative – Gwernyfed) said: “The HAs are not looking at small schemes, that does not fit their long term business plan.

“Where we come in is that we can do the ones with two or three that are vital to provide local needs housing in our little villages where there is demand from people to come back.”

Committee chairman, Cllr Mathew Dorrance (Labour – Brecon St John) said that the scrutiny committee could invite the HAs to a future meeting.

Housing Associations and the grant they receive:

  • First Choice – £418,000
  • Grŵp Cynfin – £138,000
  • Gwalia (Pobl) – £1,552,000
  • Melin Homes – £1,374,000
  • Mid Wales HA – £6,964,000
  • Newydd HA – £964,000
  • Pennaf – £2,013,000
  • Wales & West – £908,000