Search This Blog

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Housing ALMOs

I was interested to read the account given of recent suggestions that Brent's Housing ALMO (Brent Housing Partnership, or BHP) be taken back in house.  The history of these matters is interesting, especially given the contrast between Brent and Camden.

Both Councils were considered to have good housing departments and considered forming ALMOs at the same time.  This was back when the Labour government was making massive investments in local government (about 2003/4).  The debate in Brent Labour Party was pretty short and simple.  The then Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Richard Harrod (now sadly died), told us that if we formed an ALMO Brent would get about £5,000 per property to do them up.  Aside from a few hard left people, everyone thought that was pretty much a no-brainer and we went for it and formed BHP.

In Camden, there was a campaign led by the Camden New Journal telling tenants that this was privatisation and urging rejection.  A referendum by Council tenants rejected the money and the formation of the ALMO.  The tenants were then surprised to learn that without the ALMO, they would get no money and there was a long stand off with central government where the government refused extra money without the formation of an ALMO.  It was one of those episodes where I felt that misinformation (Both the privatisation accusation and the illusion of choice) led to an unnecessary confrontation and a very poor outcome for local tenants.  Eventually, Camden has gone down the route of selling off some of its properties to pay for repairs, which in Brent were done through government grant.

Other authorities, such as Islington, formed an ALMO, took and spent the money, and then took the service back in-house.

It is interesting to read that the tenants at the Brent meeting actually prefer the Brent ALMO in some form.  Possibly BHP should consider a Co-operative model, of which there are many round the country, that would preserve the more democratic ethos that at least that meeting seemed to prefer.

Oddly, I can't seem to find much information through searching the Camden New Journal web site on what was a campaign that arguably swung the decision

No comments:

Post a Comment