ALMO plans shelved after funding hold-up
Enfield Council has put plans for an arm's-length management organisation on ice, amid mounting frustration with funding delays from government.
The sixteen councils which bid for round six Almo funding in July last year have so far met with a wall of silence from the Communities and Local Government department about when they can expect to find out if they have been successful.
And Enfield lashed out this week saying it ‘understands that the number and size of the bids exceeded Government expectations and there is not enough money to go round'.
A decision on the latest Almo round, including Enfield's £147 million bid for 16,000 properties, was expected in September.
Matthew Laban, Enfield cabinet member for housing said it was ‘very disappointing' and added ‘we cannot transfer staff and resources with so many financial uncertainties'.
‘However, I trust that this is just a delay and the Government will give us the money we need to give all our tenants a decent home by 2010,' he added.
‘We remain committed toward it but we cannot take the financial risk of pressing ahead when we remain in the dark on funding.'
Stephen Clarke, chief executive of fellow round six bidder Homes for Haringey, said the delay was ‘very worrying'. He said he now has to ‘manage tenant expectations' whilst negotiating with contractors over repairs. ‘It's difficult because we are in the middle of procuring our contractors. We are going to have contractors and people ready to go but no money.'
ALMOs who have already been accepted on the programme have also been left hanging by the delays. They have already been asked to consider extending work beyond the original 2010 deadline – but despite a crisis meeting with the department last year have yet to hear officially what they will be required to do.
The National Federation of ALMOs has written to housing minister Yvette Cooper and raised the issues in a meeting last month with prime minister Tony Blair (Inside Housing, 12 January).
‘We have not had a response yet,' said Gwyneth Taylor, policy officer at the NFA. ‘The local authorities concerned are getting quite worried. They are left in a difficult scenario as they will have to explain to tenants why they can't meet expectations.'
But despite widespread speculation in the sector that the announcement on round six funding will not be made until after the spending review the CLG told Inside Housing that ‘this is not a money issue'.
‘We are looking to make a decision soon,' a spokesperson said.