ALMO review - Offer to Tenants
Report of the Chief Executive attached
This report provides an update following the report in September 2020, which informed of the outcome of the recent “due diligence” review of the Arms Length Management Organisation (AMLO), Northwards Housing, undertaken by Campbell Tickell. This report provides a summary of the progress in developing the case for tenants leading to a full consultation and “test of opinion”.
Further to Minute RGSC/20/33 (Housing Revenue Account Delivery model - Northwards ALMO Review), the Committee considered a report of the Chief Executive, which provided an update on the progress in developing the case for tenants leading to a full consultation and “test of opinion”.
Key points and themes in the report included:-
· Throughout September there had been 12 workshops to assess core direct core service delivery issues and 9 workshops to consider support (back office) service issues. This was predicated initially on the view that the housing service transferred from Northwards would be delivered within the compatible council service;
· Whilst the need to address the pressures on the HRA had been a key driver, the overriding consideration always had been protecting and improving services to tenants;
· Amongst the issues are a number of risk areas that could have an effect on our ability to sustain a high-quality service to tenants, which included–
· Covid related budget impacts
· New repairs contractor
· ICT issues
· Northwards, as part of their contributions to the workshops, were also able to share their experience of service delivery and make suggestions on future service design
· Details of the practicalities of ‘Return the service to the council’ option;
· A summary of Governance and accountability proposals; and
· Details of the proposed statutory consultation that would be undertaken if the service offer was supported.
Some of the key points that arose from the committees discussions were:-
· Welcoming the report and the progress that was reported, noting that the views and comments of this Committee had been taken into account;
· Welcoming the reported dialogue with Northwards staff;
· Noting the reported findings of the due diligence review undertaken, would similar reviews be undertaken across all homes that the Council had responsibility for;
· How would the proposals align with the economic opportunities to be realised by the Northern Gateway development programme and the North Manchester Health Campus Strategic Regeneration Framework;
· Further information was requested on the future of Manchester Move, noting that this was currently managed and administered by Northwards Housing; and
· Noting the proposed next steps, what would be the position if the proposals were not supported by Northwards tenants and how was this to be assessed.
The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration stated that the rationale for the proposal was to drive improvements in the housing stock, invest in fire safety and contribute to the city’s carbon emissions targets. She described that dialogue had commenced with staff and teams at Northwards to consider the best options for achieving any transfer with the preferred option being a ‘lift and shift’ approach, as this would reduce any risk to the service experienced by tenants and maintain continuity of staff and systems that tenants were familiar with. She stated that dialogue and staff engagement events would continue, adding that an ‘Our Manchester’ listening exercise would be delivered with Northwards staff.
The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration informed the Committee that it was the intention to align the economic developments and opportunities that were being created in the north of the city with Northwards tenants. Noting that the planned improvements to the housing stock would also deliver further economic opportunities for local residents.
In regard to Manchester Move, the Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration stated that consultation would be required as to how this was delivered and managed, noting that this was currently well managed, using the Council’s agreed allocations policy that had been designed to support and prioritise the most vulnerable residents in the city. The Director of Housing and Residential Growth stated that the fifteen Registered Housing Providers, who allocates their properties using the Manchester Move system would be consulted with, via the Housing Access Board.
The Director of Housing and Residential Growth stated that he recognised the comment from a Member regarding the findings of the due diligence review, and added that they would seek to engage with and review existing arrangements with all schemes where the Council ultimately retained overall oversight. In response to a question relating to the management of a number of bungalows outside of the city boundary, he advised that these were historical arrangements and information on this would be provided to the Member following the meeting.
In regard to the question relating to the test to be applied to measure tenant support for these proposals, the Director of Housing and Residential Growth advised the Committee that there was no prescribed requirement to hold a ballot, however if there was negative support for the scheme, having listened to the views of all tenants further consideration of these proposals would be required. He stated that the logic and rationale of the scheme and the benefits to the housing stock would hopefully encourage tenants to support these proposals.
The Committee endorse the recommendations to the Executive that;
(1) Note the outcome of the workshops and the summary of the service offer that will be put to tenants in a” test of opinion”.
(2) Note the support provided by Northwards Board and Executive for the proposal.
(3) Note the proposals contained within the report about how the new council-controlled service will be governed and how tenants will be involved and empowered in the decision making about services to homes and communities.
(4) A final report will be presented in January 2021 with the outcome of the “test of opinion” and to confirm the final decision.