Headlines: July 29th, 2003

Thirteen local councils in England could share 1.5 billion pounds of extra funding to help ensure their tenants will see major improvements to their homes and housing management over the next seven years. The money is being allocated under the government’s Arms Length Management Organisation programme – ALMO.The successful councils are Barnet, Camden, Easington, Gateshead, Harrow, High Peak, Islington, Newcastle, Poole, Sheffield, Solihull, South Lakeland and Warrington. The Housing Minister, Keith Hill, said the funding, which covers the period to 2010, was additional to the councils’ existing expenditure on their housing stock. He said the investment would contribute greatly to the government’s target of making all council homes decent by 2010. It would enable the authorities to improve the quality of more than 185,000 homes of which sixty per cent currently fall below the decent homes standard.

Mr. Hill said tenants would benefit from becoming more closely involved in the management of their homes through representation on an ALMO board. Under the programme ownership of the houses remains unchanged with councils continuing to have strategic responsibilities for housing policy. The ALMOs, though, take over day-to-day management of the properties, focusing on major improvements and repairs.

Twenty-one other local authorities are already involved in the ALMO programme. Eight were awarded funding totalling 678 million pounds under Round 1 and a further 13 shared 1,129 million under Round 2. Together these cover 360,000 homes, 210,000 of which fall below the decent homes standard.

The thirteen newly successful councils have been given initial conditional allocations for the period from 2004 to 2006 at this stage with funding continuing to the full amount if their performance is satisfactory and resources are available.