Posted by: Tom Lloyd05/12/2011
Stock transfer seems to be undergoing a bit of a revival, and it is causing the same arguments as ever.
The most notable row at the moment features Wycombe District Council, where campaign group Defend Council Housing is threatening legal action to block the move despite a ballot showing strong support from tenants.
The campaigners argue the information given to tenants in the run up to the ballot, which took place in April, was misleading. The council makes a strong case that the transfer has been led by tenants from the outset, and will be to a community-led organisation headed up by a council tenant.
At the moment a final decision on the transfer is with Grant Shapps, but if the housing minister gives the go ahead then the transfer is scheduled for the 12 December.
DCH is planning to make a final decision on whether to push for a judicial review this week. The campaigners feel there is growing local opposition to the move and they could make a strong case, but timing is now very tight.
Regardless of who is in the right on this one, an interesting figure has emerged from the discussions. Wycombe will avoid taking on £202.36 million of debt through the reform of the housing revenue account subsidy system if the transfer goes ahead.
That wasn’t the original motivation for the Wycombe transfer – which was set in motion by tenants several years ago – but it is something the council clearly sees as a benefit.
In recent months there has been an upsurge in councils seeking to transfer stock. Perhaps some councils are concluding that the cost of debt outweighs the freedoms that comes with self financing, and stock transfer offers a way out.
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