Tenant led stock transfer
05/10/2009 11:03 am
Due to some concerns raised by the Homes and Communities Agency about the posts in this thread, I'm restarting it in an amended form. Apologies for this, but it is necessary to make the changes required.
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05/10/2009 11:06 am
i represent mid suffolk tenants forum and we would like some funding to help with our stock tansfer proposals. we and the council did an options appraisal, which finished in january, and we have been delayed in pursuing this because of the boundary committee's decision on unitary authority and now the HRA review consultation. we want to go ahead with stock transfer, but fear we are running out of time. as i understand it, nothing has yet changed regarding write off of council debts at transfer, and the transfer program is still open, at least until the consultation has ended. we are frustrated that we cannot get a response from the various oganisations we have contacted, in particular HCA who should have answers to our 2 questions. 1. can we get on the transfer list and 2. is council debt overhang still being paid. please can you help. we need some funding to appoint an approved person to help with our knowledge and application for funding and our offer document. a quick reply would be appreciated sue green vice chair
05/10/2009 11:08 am
If you have not already considered CLG Guidance on the question of funding, please clink on the link below which contains helpful guidance on the issue of funding. I am assuming that your proposed transfer has the Council's support.
05/10/2009 11:09 am
I was the Independent Tenants’ Advisor at Fenland District Council during their housing stock options appraisal and housing stock transfer to Roddons Housing Association. Stock transfers are a complex and lengthy process at the best of times and tenants can find this frustrating. I am not sure why Mid Suffolk District Council felt it necessary to delay the process because of potential local government reorganisation and the housing revenue account financing review. Sedgefield District Council, for example, pressed ahead with a stock transfer on 31st March 2009 despite the fact that the authority was being merged with the County Council on the following day and the government’s response to the review of housing revenue account financing had yet to be announced.
Communities & Local Government have issued advice to local authorities on how to manage a housing stock transfer and this includes advice on how tenants should be supported through the process. This includes advice that they should appoint an Independent Tenants’ Advisor, what the role of the Independent Tenants’ Advisor should be and that they should be funded by the Council but appointed by and accountable to tenants.
At present the stock transfer programme is still open and a number of local authorities are actively pursuing a stock transfer. The government is still prepared to write off debt but is not prepared to fund transfers with a negative value. However, I understand that Mid Suffolk District Council’s housing stock has a positive valuation so there should not be a problem.
The recent consultation paper on reform of the housing revenue account proposes a ‘level playing field’ between stock retention and stock transfer. If the government goes through with its proposals this may change the balance of arguments within the housing stock options appraisal. However, the consultation paper makes clear that stock transfer will remain an option that tenants can choose.
I would therefore suggest that Mid Suffolk District Council and their tenants briefly revisit their stock options appraisal to confirm that stock transfer is still their preferred option in the light of the consultation paper. If stock transfer is still the preferred option I would suggest that they start the stock transfer process including appointing an Independent Tenants’ Advisor.
05/10/2009 11:10 am
There is no current impediment of which we are aware for stock transfer proceeding for any individual authority, or indeed part of an authorities stock. However depending on your local circumstances stock transfer is now only practical if it does not require a deficit subsidy (Dowry) from Government. NB So far as we are aware there is no current block on Government agreeing to write off any Housing Revenue attached debt on a transfer, the problems only arise in the event of subsidy in excess of write off of debt being required.
To move forward you would need to work with the local authority to appoint an experienced Independent Tenants Advisor. Alternatively you could approach the Tenant Services Authority to find out if you would be eligible for Tenant Empowerment Grant Funding to develop a Tenant Led Stock Transfer. You would still be required to obtain the support of the local authority partly as they would need to agree to partially fund the lead advisor/ITA and partly because they would need to be willing to share information relating to the condition of your housing stock and the Housing Revenue Account, and viability of possible transfer). You would also need some time to retest the conclusions already reached by the existing Options Appraisal, and to establish to your satisfaction the robustness of the financial analysis carried out to date, and credibility of the options identified.
Tom Hopkins FCIH
Open Communities Ltd.