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Great Britain

Thousands of Council homes could return to local authority management

Thousands of council properties across Kirklees could be returned to the management of the local authority under plans being considered by Kirklees Council.

It could mean the end of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH), the arms-length management organisation (ALMO) that has run the council’s properties since 2002.

There are more than 21,000 council-owned properties across the borough ranging from 6,464 one-bedroom flats to five six-bedroom houses.

The vast majority are managed by KNH.

Members of the council’s all-party Ad-Hoc Scrutiny Panel heard that the ALMO model has become less popular in recent years.

Of the 69 councils using ALMOs in 2010, 29 have returned the landlord function back to the stock-owning council.

Among the reasons for taking housing management back in-house is to maintain control of the multi-million pound Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

But the Grenfell fire of 2017, and the Hackitt Review, confirmed the need for social landlords, including Kirklees Council, to mitigate risks and provide assurance to tenants that properties meet regulatory standards.

The council is looking at three options, which will be considered by the Ad-Hoc Scrutiny Panel. It will then make a recommendation to the council’s decision-making Cabinet sometime in the New Year.

They are:

The council considers that a return in-house “is most likely to achieve the council’s objectives”.

The council’s Director of Growth and Housing, Naz Parkar, said the Grenfell tragedy had “put a different complexion” on how to run services and that it such an incident happened in Kirklees “it would be the responsibility of this council”.

Thus reputational risk would still rest with the local authority.

He said streamlining services into a single entity would save time and money.

The panel also sought and received reassurances that more than 800 existing KNH jobs are guaranteed regardless of which model is ultimately selected.

Joanne Bartholomew, the council’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Those staff have a right to their job and that transfers regardless of the model [eventually chosen].”

The panel will meet again on January 15.

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