Thursday, 31 July 2014

ALMO looks set for chop as cabinet passes decision

England’s largest arm’s-length management organisation is set to be axed despite achieving the best inspection results in the country.

Councillors are planning to scrap Sheffield Homes, which has managed Sheffield Council’s 42,000 homes since 2004 - making it the second major ALMO in a Labour-controlled authority to be brought in-house in a week.

Cabinet members agreed at a meeting last night that the council’s ‘preferred option’ is to move housing management in-house.

The authority will now conduct a non-binding ballot of tenants and make a final decision in March.

The ALMO has been awarded the maximum three-star rating from the Audit Commission three times.

But the report to cabinet said an inhouse service offers scope for significant savings without aff ecting frontline services, and would also bring back direct responsibility between members, staff and tenants.

Another Labour-controlled authority, Islington Council, also wants to bring its ALMO back in-house to save £1.5 million a year. Homes for Islington manages 29,500 properties.

James Murray, cabinet member for housing at Islington, said the savings and the uncertainty over the future of ALMOs ‘tipped the balance’ in favour of a move to in-house management.

The number of ALMOs has fallen from 69 in 2010 managing around 1 million council properties to 60 managing around 860,000 homes across 59 local authorities.

ALMOS were set up from 2002 to access decent homes funding but as these programmes come to an end councils are thinking about alternative housing management options.

The government will shortly publish an update to its 2006 guidance for local authorities with ALMOs. It is expected to stress the need for councils seeking to disband their ALMOs to explain all the options to tenants and provide a transparent consultation process.

Gwyneth Taylor, policy director of the National Federation of ALMOs, said some councils were not involving tenants enough during discussions.

A council spokesperson said: ‘Any decision about arrangements in Sheffield will be subject to a consultation and tenant ballot, which will inform a final decision to be made by cabinet.

‘We expect that a single organisation would be cheaper than a separate one. Further verification of financial assumptions is being undertaken prior to details being published as part of the public consultation.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • Trevor Galley

    An ALMO having served its purpose and met Decent Homes should reconsider its position in the market place as part of its continued sustainability.

    Clearly the Governments agenda is stock transfer, a wise council will look @ all options and discuss these with tenants including creating more TMO's, it will also be interesting to see how new guidance on RTB sits with this.

    Good Luck to all @ Shefield.

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  • They had 58000 homes back in 2004. I don't think they managed 16000 of them homes very at all!

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  • Our Father, who art in heaven, thy kingdom come, thy will be done ... and save us from pestilence and plague including the possibility that a theiving, incompetent, unaccountable housing association will assume management of any property that a tenant or leaseholder chooses to inhabit. So help us God.

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  • Why the hell does this article have a picture of parkhill?

    Parkhill has now been privatised and £40 million of public money has already been given to the developers.

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  • Fear & Loathing

    Picture of Parkhill? Perhaps Sheffield City Council will give the rest of their stock to Urban Splash too!

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  • Douglas Nuttall

    Becoming an ALMO was never primarily about serving the community it was about accessing funds to continue to serve the community. With those funds drying or dried completely and no alternative CLG lead "programmes" there are little options available. Its radical but some ALMO's are lead by community spirited individuals whose views are that "social" housing be run by the public sector. A Marxist view I think but for all the right reasons.

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  • Formerly Homeless Youth, what makes you say that they have not managed the homes well at all? Have you had major problems with them?

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  • Rick Campbell

    We could have been an ALMO, we could have been hived off piecemeal to other housing providers --- we went for being a housing association of our own so we could all stick together to protect the vulnerable and elderly tenants.

    We haven't had massive government grants for Decent Homes Work .. we;ve carried out millions and millions of ounds of improvements in 5 years -- tenants' and service charge payers' (and we tenants have heavilly subsidised them) money.

    Just saying -- council. ALMO. housing association or whatever .. there's some good and some bad 'uns.

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