Housing transfers may reach 400,000 a year

2 Nov 00
Smaller shire councils have been promised they will not be excluded from next year's housing stock transfer programme by larger urban authorities hoping to offload tens of thousands of homes.

03 November 2000

Stephen Stringer, head of the housing association and private finance division at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, told a conference in London on October 25 that ministers did not want to see more than 200,000 properties transferred each year.

But there is a fair chance that number will be exceeded in 2001/2 if authorities such as Birmingham, which has 90,000 houses, are included. 'If you've got a good scheme, then put it forward and we will find ways of looking at it,' Stringer said.

Ministers are seeking Parliamentary approval for large-scale voluntary transfer (LSVT) programmes covering two years from next April. From 2002, this will effectively mean that the government is running two programmes in parallel each year. 'The number of transfers going through at any one time could be as much as 400,000,' Stringer said.

Future programmes would place increasing emphasis on social and economic regeneration – regardless of the number of homes involved, he said. A consultation document on LSVTs and arm's-length management companies, due in the next few weeks, will outline how the government hopes to diversify transfers.

Options include more partial transfers of housing stocks and establishing groups of registered social landlords (RSLs) to run large numbers of properties. Councils could also come under greater pressure to transfer houses to existing RSLs rather than set up new associations or trusts.

Stringer said: 'We don't want to just leap in and require competition. We will be looking with the Housing Corporation at ways of bringing more competition into the transfer process, but we want it to be [done] in a sensible and structured way.'

David Whelpton, whose company has advised 75 local authorities on LSVTs, warned councils may find it harder to win tenant ballots if they are not proposing to set up a new RSL or housing trust.

'The reputation of existing housing associations is not that great among local authority tenants,' he said.


Did you enjoy this article?