Letter: Home truths

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The Independent Online
THE campaign to illuminate the use of quangos is too important for the facts to be open to misinterpretation. Your report 'Welcome to Quangoland' (22 May) referred to 2,668 housing associations. It should be made clear that housing associations are not quangos: they belong to the voluntary sector. They are non-profit, independent, and controlled by committees of volunteers elected from the members of the association. No member may benefit from membership of their association (this includes the allocation of a home). Housing associations do, however, receive billions of pounds of taxpayers' cash.

The Housing Corporation - a Goliath in quangoland - is charged with funding, regulating and promoting housing associations. It can only appoint committee members where the public interest is at risk.

As custodians of public funding, and providers of a basic essential - homes for people in need - housing associations are aware of the dangers of lack of accountability. So much so that their trade association, The National Federation of Housing Associations, has set up an Inquiry into the Governance of Housing Associations.

Patrick Harkness

Chairman, Threshold Housing Association, London SW18

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