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From the archive: homeless only allocated a minority of social homes

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25 years ago this week: social homes going to waiting list, not homeless or single mums

15 years ago this week: Councils rush to set up ALMOs

5 years ago this week: Cash-strapped councils raid rent for general funds

1993 (this front page)

People on the housing waiting list - not homeless people - were getting the majority of new lets of both council and housing association homes, government figures revealed.

The story, which undercut myths about housing allocations in the ‘90s, made front page news for Inside Housing.

Only 39% of the roughly 256,000 new lets in the 1992-3 financial year went to tenants who were considered “statutory homeless”. The majority went to people who had signed up to the waiting list but weren’t considered homeless or threatened by homelessness. Many of those getting tenancies were also transferring from an existing social tenancy.

“People with children are priorities under both systems, but no additional priority is given to lone parents,” said John Perry, policy director of the Institute of Housing. 22% of housing association lets went to lone parents.

2003

Councils were so enthusiastic about hiving off their housing departments to create arm’s length management organisations (ALMOs), that the government was running out of money to create more.

19 local authorities had just submitted bids to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to fund the creation of ALMOs for their housing stock - bidding for a total of £2.2bn. The money was being used to fund renovation of homes, environmental improvements and regeneration.

Salford was one of the councils bidding for money, after being rejected three previous times. Councils had to achieve a high enough star rating from the Audit Commission before funding was released.

Some of the ALMOs that did win funding have since been taken in-house, since the structure has become less popular in recent years, including Brent and Hackney.

2013

Government had launched an investigation after at least three cash-strapped councils transferred substantial amounts of money from their rent accounts into their ailing general funds.

Manchester, Oxford and Dover rubber stamped multi-million pound transfers out of their housing revenue accounts (HRAs), before a loophole allowing the transactions was closed. Manchester moved the largest amount of money - £15m, or £900 for each tenant of its 17,000 homes.

The councils blamed swingeing cuts in central government funding, which they said threatened statutory services.

However we quoted an anonymous housing lawyer who said: “My view is that the law doesn’t permit the transfer of money out of the HRA to the general fund.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s policy advisor John Perry said: “HRA funds should be used for services for tenants.”

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