Executive publicly rules out full second stage transfer
The Scottish Executive has publicly ruled out the second stage transfer of Glasgow Housing Association's homes to all the network of local housing organisations.
Addressing delegates at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland conference in Aberdeen this week, communities minister Malcolm Chisholm said a full transfer to all 63 LHOs would not take place.
'The fact that there will not be 63 second stage transfers is widely recognised, including among Glasgow's local housing organisations,' he said.
The admission follows revelations of a £350 million funding gap preventing full scale second stage transfer (Inside Housing, 3 March).
Chisholm admitted that second stage transfer 'does pose tricky financial issues' but said no organisations, including Glasgow Housing Association or the city's local housing organisations, were asking for more money to support the project. He said LHOs were now looking to join up to reduce the number of transfers.
The CIH in Scotland called on the executive to announce the exact number of second stage transfers that will take place.
'The minister's announcement came as a surprise,' chair John Mills said. 'This really is important as it raises questions about how large an organisation can be, yet still be seen as delivering community ownership.'
Chisholm reaffirmed the executive's commitment to community ownership. 'It has been suggested in some quarters that the recent Edinburgh no vote would result in a change to our policy on community ownership,' Chisholm said. 'Nothing could be further from the truth. Suggestions that the Treasury will write off Edinburgh's debt without transfer will not come to pass.'
But speaking later at the conference, Mark Turley, director of services for communities at Edinburgh Council, said it was time for the executive to rethink.
'What I will say to the executive: we have done our damnedest to make your policy work in Edinburgh,' he said. 'We now have to accept that the people have spoken.
'A responsible executive now has to reconsider its own policy and accept that what works in Argyll & Bute isn't going to work everywhere. All they keep saying is we won't change our position and within that it's forcing it down people's throats.'
Early findings from MORI, commissioned by Edinburgh Council to establish why its tenants voted no, show concerns about the transfer in Glasgow came top of the list of reasons. Fear of change and the perception of privatisation also ranked highly.
A full report detailing MORI's findings is expected to be published in April.
This week also saw the first meeting of a new group established by the executive to guide second stage transfer, chaired by deputy communities minister Johann Lamont (Inside Housing, 3 February).