Northwards Housing will be brought back into City Council oversight following a recent consultation with tenants and leaseholders.
93% of the responses from tenants welcomed proposals to bring the management of their homes back under Council control for the first time since 2005.
The consultation followed a recent review, which identified a number of weaknesses that needed to be addressed. (See notes to editors)
Moving the service back to the Council could save around £77m over the course of the 30 year business plan - money that can be reinvested to improve services for Northwards tenants.
New governance arrangements will also allow tenants to have more of a say about future decisions affecting their homes and their neighbourhoods.
It is hoped that work will begin shortly to bring Northwards back in-house by the summer.
The report will be heard this week by the Council's Economic Scrutiny (Thurs 14 Jan) and the Executive Committee next week (Weds 20 Jan)
Link to the report, ITEM 6
Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said:
“Northwards Housing has been at the heart of north Manchester communities for 15 years and I would like to thank them for their service to the city.
“Our aim when we first established the ALMO was and remains ensuring that we can deliver the best possible service and standards for tenants.
“In bringing the service back into the Council we are keen to ensure that those areas of best practice, which have had a significant and positive impact on local communities are built upon.
This includes work to tackle domestic abuse, the debt management and advice services and the subsidiary organisation ('YES') which supports people into jobs and training.
“We will be doing this hand in hand with tenants which is why one of our first priorities over the next few months will be strengthening and amplifying tenant voice – so that tenants are part of shaping the service and priorities going forward.”
BACKGROUND TO THE ALMO REVIEW:
Northwards Housing Ltd currently manage 13,000 Council-owned social homes (of 16,000 Council-owned social homes in the city) as part of an Arm’s Length Management Organisation (or ALMO) agreement with the Council.
The test of opinion undertaken throughout December (ended 4 January 2021) followed a previous independent due diligence review last summer by Campbell Tickell, which concluded that to “do nothing” was not an option and highlighted areas of improvement.
The review was commissioned initially as it was found that the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) was projected to be in deficit over the 30-year lifespan of the current business plan - in part due to the four-year 1% rent reduction introduced by the Government between 2016 and 2020.
This would mean the HRA could not support the level of investment required to meet the Council’s housing priorities, including meeting the city’s zero carbon targets and so steps must be taken to reduce the financial stress of an ALMO.
Previous press release around the review can be found here