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Governing Independence and Expertise tells the story of governing the not-for-profit housing sector in the UK through the lens of its representative body, the National Housing Federation. In 1935 housing societies, associations and charitable trusts had failed in their bid to become central partners in tackling the 'problem of the slums'. Out of this failure came recognition of the necessity of a central body, one that could represent their interests and make them understood as 'expert' organisations; and so the National Federation of Housing Societies was born.
This is not an unfamiliar story; organisations have often set up collective structures to facilitate intervention in government. What is more remarkable is the success of the project, as today the housing association sector is seen by many as the dominant force in social housing provision. Housing associations (as they came to be known) have pioneered many programmes now central to our 'modernised' welfare state - private finance, independence and entrepreneurialism. By telling the story of the Federation, the book examines the role of the non-governmental sector in mechanisms of governing. It engages with many contemporary debates about public services and the nature of the 'social' - the limits of the role of the not-for-profit sector; the impact of private funders; and the disappearance of the notion of 'public'.
The book utilises two analytical frameworks. First, chapters on the limits of charity law, battles for control with local government, controlling centralised state regulation, and the regulatory role of money, consider how governing occurs in different regulatory spaces. Second, focusing upon the importance of ideas, chapters on: campaigning for housing as a social movement; and independence and entrepreneurialism.