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In het belang van belanghebbenden: intern toezicht bij woningcorporaties

Versteeg, D. (2013) In het belang van belanghebbenden: intern toezicht bij woningcorporaties.

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Abstract:Social housing associations and the law proposal to ‘introduction of the social enterprise’ are the main subjects in this research. The main question in this research was: DOES THE INTRODUCTION OF THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE OFFER A CHANGE IN THE ORGANISATION AND OPERATION OF THE INTERNAL CONTROL OF SOCIAL HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS? Characteristic for the social housing sector in the Netherlands is the presence of sectoral legislation and frequently used governance codes. Furthermore, the development of the social housing sector in the past hundred years has been different than the other, so-called semi-public sectors. This research compares the existing legislation for social housing organisations and the proposed law for social enterprises. The following problem definition answers the main question: What is the extend to which the withdrawal of the law proposal to introduction of the social enterprise is a loss for the social housing corporations, when considering the possibilities of influencing policymaking of social enterprices and the inforcement of internal control of social housing corporations? Organisation and control of institutions in the civil society are of daily concern of the public. Mostly because the role of internal control systems is under discussion, often on the occassion of financial problems. The law proposal for social enterprises aimed at giving means for the institutions to be able to service the (critical) environment and strengthen contol on the board of the institution. This is a descriptive research. With use of a literature study and four interviews, the problem definition has been analysed using five sub-questions: 1. A social enterprise: what is it? 2. Why was a change in legislation for social enterprises needed? 3. What legislation is available for the social housing sector at this moment? 4. What would the social enterprise look like, when the law proposal would be introduced and what are the most important critisism on the organisation and control of the social enterprise? 5. Which lessons can be learned from the current co-operation and participation with tenants in the social housing sector? Since the law proposal there is a definition for social enterprises. These are private corporations, with a social goal which is the same as the public interest, and uses the profit to execute the social goal. A social interest becomes a public interest, when the government attracts this interest. Since the last constitutional change in the Netherlands, in 1983, a number of public interests are part of the consitution and the government has the responsibility to take care of the execution of these interests. Slowly, the public interests have become intertwined with the concept ‘public task’. This is not a juridical concept, but there is an indication what tasks are considered as ‘public tasks’. These tasks look like tasks described in public law, have a connection with public law, look like tasks executed bij public law-organisations, or these tasks are experienced as a public task (for example because of historical development). This means that tasks, which in the past have been executed by the government, will long bes een as public tasks. The executers of public tasks often depend (sometimes indirect) on public money. This situation asks for sufficient and high quality control on the work of the executor. With the absence of competion and not enough opportunities for voice, the legitimacy of the organisation is under pressure. Legitimacy of organisations depends on three aspects: input-legitimacy, output-legitimacy and support for the organisation in society. Larger financial interest and increasing empowerment of tenants and other stakeholders makes specific law for social housing corporations more important. Because both public and civil law applies to social housing corporations, the law proposal joins the defined corporations in civil law . The ‘corporation’ social enterprise is a modality of the Dutch juridical corporations ‘vereniging’ or ‘stichting’. Many social housing associations are founded as ‘vereniging’ or ‘stichting’, because only social housing associations founded as these juridical corporations can be marked as so-called ‘toegelaten instelling’, described in the Woningwet. The ‘vereniging’ already has internal controls, because this is prescribed in civil law. For the ‘stichtingen’, internal control only became obligatory with the introduction of the ‘Besluit Beheer Sociale Huursector (BBSH). Besides this public law instrument, the sector has also implemented a governance code, the ‘Governancecode Woningcorporaties’, which obliges the social housing associations to installation of a Supervisory Board. Communication with tenants has been implemented through the ‘Overlegwet’ and BBSH. A social housing association must consult the tenants, before they can start with a thorough renovationproject. Civil law projects tenants also against thorough renovation in ‘Burgerlijk Wetboek Boek 7’. Despite this assurance of control in the ‘Governancecode Woningcorporaties’, the BBSH and the ‘Overlegwet’, there is need for strenghtening of internal controls in social housing associations. One of the new elements in this law proposal to strengthen the internal controls, was the so-called ‘belanghebbendenvertegenwoordiging’. All stakeholders of the social enterprise could take place in this counsel. However, this does not fulfill the need of strengthening the internal controls. In the current laws, especially in the civil law, there are enough legal guarentees for voice, financial accountability, dispute resolution and control on the board. These legal guarantees should be strenghented by better representatives on behalf of the tenants, or through introduction of control from government institutions. This last measure would not justify the choice to use the knowledge available with specialists in their own field. Control is important for trust in (large) organisations, especially when ‘exit’ and ‘voice’ are only available to a limited extent. Organisations should see it as their duty to keep in touch with their customers and stakeholders. When customers, for example in the ‘belanghebbendenvertegenwoordiging’, are part-owners of the social enterprise, then they are also responsible for contingent (and potential problematic) situations. Then there is real co-creation and collective entrepreneurship. However, the combination of the right of advisory and the right of inquiry does not show commitment, but a free role towards the organisatison. A supervisory board should be aware of its task, which is the independent internal control on the organisation. The law proposal to the introduction of the social enterprise is an attempt to emphasize this task, but failes in this attempt, because of the general purpose to introduce this corporation in more than one sector. The existing governance codes can be a good complement to the existing laws for corporations in the civil society. To give these codes more strength, the government should declare these codes obligatory for the sector it applies to. The current laws offer enough possibilities to give stakeholders the opportunity to influence policy of the organisation and strengthen internal controls. For example through:  Strengthening the nomination, appointment and taskdescription of a stakeholdersboard. This can be a tenantsorganisation, a ‘belanghebbendenvertegenwoordiging’ or a shareholdersmeeting;  Secure the social goal of social housing organisations on the basis of the ‘Governancecode Woningcorporaties’;  Improvement of the taskdescription for the board and supervisory board by securing the social goal of the social housing organisation;  Intervention by the minister when the social housing corporation acts contrary to the social housing interest.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
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