Friday, October 17, 2008

Housing associations ordered to respond to EIR requests

ICO press release
17 October 2008
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled that two housing associations in Northern Ireland are public authorities for the purpose of requests under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). Assistant Information Commissioner, Steve Wood is ordering both housing associations to release information on property development or issue a formal notice stating why the information should not be disclosed.
In order to reach his decision, the Assistant Information Commissioner considered whether both housing associations carry out functions of public administration as defined by the EIR. He found that BIH and Wesley manage a range of housing accommodation and do so in line with the Common Selection Scheme approved by the DSD. In his view, these are functions of public administration and therefore both housing associations are public authorities for the purposes of EIR. He noted that, whilst registered housing associations remain independent voluntary organisations, the DSD has considerable power to intervene in a situation of alleged misconduct or mismanagement. In addition, the housing associations must annually account to DSD for their use of public funds. In addition, he found that BIH and Wesley also fall under the EIR as they are under the control of a government department and have responsibilities relating to the environment.
Press release (pdf)
FER0152607 Belfast Improved Housing Association
FER149772 Wesley Approved Housing Association

No comments: