ONS ‘provisionally’ reclassifies housing associations out of public sector

English associations have been included in a provisional reclassification, with their £63.5bn debt moving off the public sector balance sheet with them.

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The Office for National Statistics has made steps to reverse their decision last year to make housing associations public bodies.

The ONS also says Wales and Scotland are not too far behind, with the Northern Ireland sector further behind to due to the current political stalemate.

The ONS said: “Having carried out an assessment on the additional information, ONS has determined that if the proposed regulations come into force as proposed then local authority and central government influence in combination with the existence of nomination agreements would not constitute public sector control, and English PRPs would be reclassified as Private Non-Financial Corporations.

“As such, ONS will be happy to review the classification once the secondary legislation has been enacted.”

However, the ONS will not formally reassess the classification of English housing associations until the proposed legislation has passed through Parliament.

Housing associations from all corners of the UK have fought to be reclassified, with then housing minister Brandon Lewis announcing a deregulation package for English associations soon after the decision.

Chartered Institute of Housing deputy chief executive Gavin Smart said: “Although we have been expecting this decision for some time, it is welcome news.

“It’s important that housing associations retain their independent status, not least because it means they can secure significant amounts of private finance to bolster public investment in housing.

“We hope this provisional decision is confirmed once the relevant legislation is passed by Parliament and for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to see the same outcome.”

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