Wednesday, 14 July 2010
New Charter Board Director's greedy fingers in rent till fiasco
Ten years ago in 1999/2000 all remaining Tameside Council Housing was transferred to a new Housing Association - New Charter Housing Trust Group Limited - who bent over backwards to 'persuade', or should I say 'hoodwink', tenants to 'vote' for the ‘Big-Switch’ with promised property upgrade inducements, promises there would be no 'fat cats', and promises of greater tenant involvement and democracy with such statements as:
"There can be no payment for Directors under strict Housing Corporation directions".
"Those taking seats on the Boards cannot by law be paid."
From the outset Board Directors were unpaid voluntary workers, but within 2 years they were seeking ways to circumvent these empty promises, seeking ways to line their own pockets at tenant expense! "Consideration to the question of whether or not to make payments to Non–Executive Directors (NEDs) within the Group has taken place over a period of time commencing in 2002." Payments will not "detrimentally affect any promises given to tenants at the time of transfer." Oh, please! Pull the other one!
On 11th August 2004 a 'Working Panel' was established to look into "the possible remuneration of NEDs and to undertake consultation with tenants and other Stakeholders." "It is necessary for the Group to engage in consultation with tenant groups and with other stakeholders including The Housing Corporation. Indeed, because of the reputational aspects relating to the question of payment, even in the absence of a requirement to consult, it would be desirable to do so."
New Charter said: "The Tenants Federation was significantly involved in the consultation period, however I can find no evidence of there being a general mailing or publicity through a newsletter of the Board decision to remunerate Board members." Tenants were not consulted. Nor have they been told that Board Directors remunerate themselves with many thousands of pounds of tenant rent! For 6 years they have kept this secret hidden from most tenants. The majority of tenants do not even belong to a tenant group! Elections have not taken place for 6 years despite the fact they should be held every 3 years! New Charter officer Laura Douthwaite told me, "Tenant Elections take place every 3 years in accordance with the Company’s Articles of Association", and she ought to know because she is in charge of such matters! Still, it is obviously untrue!
The usual exhortations are given for why they DESERVE to be paid! What more can one expect from self-aggrandising puffed-up pompous little egos with an exaggerated sense of their own self-importance! "Governance has become much more complex" and "consequently the expectation and accompanying responsibility is of a magnitude that may not ordinarily be considered to be the mantle of a NED in another sector." "Payment levels will acknowledge the additional responsibilities and time commitments of the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Group’s Boards and Committees." "There is an expectation that [‘we’] will achieve the highest standards of governance and act with the utmost integrity. There is an accompanying requirement to attract NEDs of the highest order who are not only technically aware but who also understand and support the wider social audit issues." Please! Pass the sick bucket!
In 2005 the 'suggested' payment levels were: Board Director £2,000; Trust Chair £5,000; Subsidiary Chair £4,000; & Vice-Chair £3,000. In 2005 they said, "the levels of payment are considered to be of a minimum and are intended to improve commitment and professionalism; as well as enabling a more rigorous form of monitoring and enhanced achievement. The levels of payment are not anticipated to have a detrimental affect on housing provision, services, repairs or investment. Nor will payment detrimentally affect any promises given to tenants at the time of transfer. The level of payments and total cost of payments is considered to be proportionate to the turnover of the Group. The total cost to the Group would be £50,000 against an annual turnover of £43m, this is equivalent to, approximately, 0.09%."
And that’s supposed to justify it! Further, the cost has risen and expanded to include all Boards! Now there's a surprise! How will this 'not' detrimentally affect the promises given at transfer?
In 2008-09 a Board Director received between £3,250 and £5,500; a Chair or Vice-Chair between £7,500 and £19,000! Very lucrative indeed! Co-opted Directors received from £1,500 to £2,000. They continue to remunerate themselves accordingly! No Corporate Social Responsibility here; just an ethically bereft Company.
Love, Light & Laughter
All quotes are taken from New Charter documents in my possession, none of which can be found on 'the Company's' website. They were sent to me by email in easy answer to some of my questions. They will be published on this blog, or be accessible from it, in the near future!
Two months ago I sent a variation of the above by email to both the local 'rags', namely the 'Tameside Advertiser', and the 'Tameside Reporter', neither of which deigned to print them despite several telephone calls and further emails from myself.
Ever since New Charter set their 'legal dogs' on them in 2007 the Tameside Advertiser has been fearful of publishing any letters from me that reference New Charter! I suspect one of the conditions for not prosecuting a case against them was that they cease to support any 'bad press' activity from myself! But this does not explain the reluctance of the Tameside Reporter!
Other of my letters, both new and old, have also not been printed, while the 'usual suspects' continue to be printed week after week, almost without fail!
Another good reason for my setting up this blog! I appear to be persona non grata!
So much for 'Freedom of the Press'!
Monday, 12 July 2010
----- Original Message -----
From: Ardern, John
Cc: Pearson, Vicky
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2010 11:17 AM
Subject: RE: Board Directors and payments received
I have attached documents and response below which I hope answer your questions. In summary, there was a significant amount of discussion and consultation on the matter of Board remuneration which received the Trust Board's support.
At the time of the LSVT New Charter said:
"There can be no payment for Directors under strict Housing Corporation directions."
"Those taking seats on the Boards cannot by law be paid."
Sunday, 11 July 2010
I think NOT!
(undated on page 11th July 2010)
EXTRACTNorthern Housing Consortium News
Northern Housing Consortium Response to Emergency Budget
"The Northern Housing Consortium will be co-ordinating a submission to the Spending Review on behalf of our Members; we are very keen to engage with our members to shape our submission. In the coming weeks we will be requesting information upon examples of:Effective localism where communities have had a stronger role to play in policy making and decision making improved and/or better transparent use of information
Examples of real community engagement and better and effective engagement with the third sector
Areas where you have made significant budget savings without compromising quality of service"
New Charter Housing Trust are a member of this consortium.
I sincerely hope they are not 'engaged' to "shape 'their' submission", for in Tameside there is no "effective localism" where communities have a say in "policy making and decision making". In fact, New Charter does the very opposite acting to remove any such input through tenant exclusion and lack of information. When a tenant really does want to get involved in such activities and where New Charter are unable to control them they evict them from the process! I know this for a fact and I am not alone in being on the receiving end of such forms of tenant exclusion by this authoritarian landlord! It is probably the case that I am the most excluded! Perhaps this in itself is a badge of honour!
New Charter may very well be able to 'demonstrate' such inclusive practices by reference to their vetted and long-standing 'nodding donkey' tenants and Tenant Directors. They are very few but even so receive most attention by New Charter! Most tenants that become involved do so as lambs to the slaughter. If they cannot be convinced, or should I say coerced, they are 'sidelined', and if persistent they are evicted! Democracy, what democracy!
Love, Light and Laughter