Stock transfers are not a general answer

27 Sep 01
Housing stock transfers have become too process-driven and do not provide enough choice for tenants, social landlords at the National Housing Federation conference in Birmingham were told.

28 September 2001

Too many councils are paying the same consultants to devise predictable transfer schemes that do not reflect the needs of the local area, said Sarah Webb, head of the government's community housing task force.

It was sometimes possible to work out which firm of consultants had been employed by a local authority by looking at the order in which words were set out on each page of their proposal, she said.

'There is not enough thinking about individuality and choice,' she told a fringe meeting. 'Stock transfer should be your answer to your problem and not a general answer to a general problem.'

The task force was set up this year by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions to advise councils on transfers, although it is not intended to replace consultants.

A transfer, said Webb, was about more than just bricks and mortar. Money raised could be used to transform communities by involving other services such as health and education.

'The local authority that's left behind should not be one man and a dog,' she added. 'It should be a strategic organisation which enables housing associations and other partners to make a real difference.'

Elsewhere at the conference, a new 'framework for partnership' was launched by the NHF, the Local Government Association and the Housing Corporation. This pledges greater co-operation between councils and registered social landlords over neighbourhood management, Best Value and the use of housing strategy information.

New guidance to be published by the DTLR in the next two weeks will tell councils they must involve tenants in transfers at an earlier stage and offer them greater choice in selecting their future landlord.

Housing minister Lord Falconer said transfers were moving into 'more difficult territory' because of the number and type of homes involved, but he was still determined to ensure that promises made to tenants were kept.

'I want a validation process to help RSLs confirm their achievements,' he said. 'We want greater choice in selecting a new landlord, greater involvement of tenants and positive action to involve members of the black and minority ethnic communities.'


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