Source: City of Manchester
The way Council-owned social homes are managed in the city will be reviewed to ensure high standards are met amid a fast-changing housing sector.
Council-owned social housing in the city is predominantly managed by Northwards Housing – an arm’s length management organisation (ALMO) – which looks after around 13,000 Council homes in the city.
The most recent review was undertaken in 2016 as a due diligence exercise. This iteration will undertake an in-depth business case review of the ALMO model, looking at management standards of the Council-owned properties, value for money to the Council for the service received, and will also ask for input from residents.
Tenants will play a crucial role, providing insight from the people living in Northwards properties to fully appreciate their lived experience and to gain insight around how they feel their home is looked after, and what their vision for the future is.
Fundamentally, the exercise will ascertain the most appropriate option for how Council-owned social housing is managed in the future, with the current preferred option – subject to consultation – to bring management of these homes back in-house.
The review is also in the context of significant changes within the social housing sector, not least the way social housing finance is managed through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) system.
Changes to the HRA (*see notes to editors) mean the Council’s 30-year business plan will become unviable without intervention – with the potential for the account to go in to significant deficit in the long-term – and costs around social housing must be reviewed immediately to ensure the HRA can support essential investments to the Council’s housing stock, including:
- Continued Decent Homes-standard property improvements;
- Further fire safety investment, and;
- Retrofitting older homes to meet carbon reduction standards.
Further detail around how residents can take part in this review will be made available shortly.
The business case review will be reported back to the Council’s executive in September this year.
Cllr Suzanne Richard, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “We want Manchester residents to benefit from high quality, well-managed social housing. The most recent review of the Council’s ALMO (arm’s length management organisation) was in 2016 and it is now timely that we do so again.
“Zero carbon retrofit, further fire safety investment and the need for continued investment in our existing homes brings with it huge financial challenges. It’s therefore right we should take the time to reflect on the challenges ahead and the best way to meet these.
“We cannot do this without the help of Council tenants. Alongside our refresh of the Our Manchester strategy over the weeks ahead, it’s important that we also get the views of Northwards tenants about what it is like to live in a Northwards home and what changes they want to see in the future.”
Sue Abbott, Chair of the Northwards Board, said: “Here at Northwards we are proud of what we have achieved over the last 14 years. We will continue to work tirelessly in the best interests of tenants, which is something I can say as a Council tenant of many years’ standing. We recognise that the Council needs to periodically review how best to manage and repair council-owned homes, and we will fully participate in the review to ensure that tenants’ voices are clearly heard.”