RSLs poach council staff, says study

20 Sep 01
New social landlords set up following stock transfers from local councils are being warned against relying on former housing department staff to fill their leading posts.

21 September 2001

Although it is important to give tenants continuity, new landlords should attempt to strike a balance between employing familiar faces and taking on fresh blood, says The morning after, a study by the Housing Quality Network (HQN).

Familiar faces are more likely to win the trust of tenants – especially where the council housing department had a reasonable reputation prior to the transfer, says the report, based on interviews with managers at new transfer landlords.

But housing associations who leave only 'dead wood' behind at the local authority could ultimately lose out financially. 'These people could soon be in charge of how the council's receipt is spent,' it says. 'If they can't influence senior council colleagues, there is a risk that promised millions for new homes grants will be switched to other budgets.'

A survey earlier this year by Social housing magazine found that three out of every five senior executives appointed by transfer landlords in 2000/01 had previously worked for the council which ceded the homes.

Alistair McIntosh, director of the HQN, made up of 300 local authorities and housing associations, said: 'The new organisations need high-calibre staff but so does the council. There needs to be a wider pool from which to recruit people to all public sector jobs.'

John Craggs, group strategic executive at Sunderland Housing Group, said it had been easier to get full

co-operation during the transfer process by using employees who were switching from Sunderland City Council.

The report also warns councils against promising too much to tenants in the run-up to a transfer. Louise Barnden, chief executive of the Riviera Housing Trust in Torbay, Devon, said: 'The expectations placed on you for the post-transfer situation are often unrealistic. Many tenants expect everything to be sorted out within six weeks.'

Figures released at this week's National Housing Federation conference in Birmingham show 80% of tenants are happy with the service they receive from transfer landlords, compared with 77% of those with traditional RSLs and 75% of council tenants.


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