£30m to be unlocked for new housing as ALMO takes ownership of council's stock
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing
Plymouth Council tenants say 'yes' to stock transfer
The Housing Minister will today announce a proposed transfer of 4,800 council homes into the full ownership of an ALMO.
And it is hoped the move will lead to up to £30 million being unlocked and invested in new homes for Gloucester - the first new social housing the area as seen since the 1980s.
Gloucester City Homes, which has managed Gloucester City Council's homes since 2005, will take control of the housing stock as the council finally relinquishes all responsibility.
Minister Kris Hopkins is set to make the announcement this afternoon at GCH's offices. The MP has already described the move as a "good deal for Gloucester residents".
Under the terms of the deal, by transferring the homes to GCH, the council will see its £50m in historic housing debt wiped out by the government.
However, the transfer must now go to a tenants’ vote, which will ultimately decide if GCH takes complete control.
Speaking on a visit to Gloucester, Hopkins said: “As an MP and former council leader, I’ve seen for myself the difference stock transfer can make, unlocking millions of pounds to refurbish homes and improve the lives of tenants.
“So I’m pleased to be signing this deal with Gloucester City Council, which could lead to the first new social homes in the city for 25 years, and lead to as much as £30 million additional investment in existing stock over the next ten years.”
The Homes and Communities Agency has said that its involvement at the current stage of the transfer is regulatory only.
In a statement, the HCA said: "Gloucester City Homes will need to register with us as a provider of social housing and thereafter they would be regulated in the same way as any other large providers, and would have to give us assurance that they are meeting our standards etc. In order to register, they would need to meet our registration criteria."
The council's leader, Paul James, said: “As a council we own 4,800 homes and we take our responsibilities as a landlord very seriously. The condition of our stock and the service given to tenants is hugely important to us.
“Over the last few years, £40 million investment has seen 100 per cent of our stock reach the Decent Homes standard and Gloucester City Homes has done an excellent job in both managing the properties and involving tenants.
“But we know that we cannot continue to invest even more in future to the degree that is needed because of restrictions in borrowing. Transferring the stock to Gloucester City Homes will overcome this.”
Chairman of the GCH board Tim Dare added: “Gloucester City Homes is delighted with the minister’s announcement today, which is fantastic news for tenants and for Gloucester residents.
"I would like to thank all political groups at the City Council who unanimously recognised that stock transfer is the only option which will continue to support future investment in tenants’ homes and will allow new affordable homes to be built.
“It is very important that tenants exercise their right to vote in a ballot this September. Gloucester City Homes is about listening to and working with tenants to provide high quality services.
“We would like the opportunity to continue our successful journey as an independent housing provider to meet tenants’ needs and aspirations for their homes and communities in the future.”