Posted by: Alex Wellman01/09/2011
The subject of arms-length management organisations is becoming ever more important for local authorities up and down the country.
We have seen recently how both Islington and Redbridge Councils are engaged in discussions over the future of their housing management bodies.
Redbridge, it would appear, is set to bring its housing stock back under control of the council. At least that is what the recommendation says.
Islington is under siege from residents demanding Homes for Islington – the north London borough’s ALMO – is disbanded.
Both are engaged in consultations and both are due to make decisions in the near future.
One thing that may be forgotten in all this is the role of the contractor.
ALMOs were initially created to help push through the decent homes programme – a steady source of work for repairs and maintenance companies.
The government pledged extra money to help bring homes up to the standard.
Funding for this should be secured through each local authority’s April 2012 settlement but what about work outside decent homes?
If ALMOs stay as they are or even come back in-house, finding cash for extra work will be hard.
Many contractors will have already had discussions with their council partners about the possibility of the ALMO going back in-house or even having the stock transferred to a housing association.
One major contractor told me how the important thing to do was not go hard one way or the other on the subject of ALMOs.
They said it was important to articulate the benefits of partnering to the ultimate end user – the customer – and put forward the arguments on value for money and efficiency whether the ALMO is inside or out the council.
This seems like the sensible approach but one thing must be of concern is that if ALMOs are brought back in house, how will this impact on solid relationships built over years of trust?
It is certainly an interesting time.
From Can we fix it?
Alex Wellman takes a look at what’s going on in the social housing contracting sector