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BIRMINGHAM CONSIDERS TRANSFER OF 92,000 HOMES

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The transfer of all Birmingham's 92,000 council homes to new ownership will be considered by members of housing str...
The transfer of all Birmingham's 92,000 council homes to new ownership will be considered by members of housing strategy policy panel this Friday 19 November.

The proposal will then go to a special joint meeting of the housing services committee and policy and resources committee on Monday 22 November.

Any proposals for transfer would have to be voted on by tenants who will be consulted throughout the process.

An appraisal by independent consultants HACAS on investment options for the city's housing and the housing department's own studies conclude that the only practical method of securing the£2bn-3bn urgently needed for improvement is for the council to transfer all its stock.

The options considered by HACAS included, doing nothing, increasing rent levels, partial transfer to existing housing associations or total transfer to a new landlord.

What is being proposed is that a new citywide trust be set up to own the freehold of the stock. The trust would be managed by a Board, comprising; city councillors, tenants, a staff representative and independents.

It would lease the stock to a number of community-based neighbourhood management organisations. The NMO's would deliver the management service, repair and improve homes and prepare plans to meet local investment needs.

Transfer would allow the trust to raise the necessary money to improve all the homes within a ten-year period. It also allows the government to support Birmingham paying off its outstanding housing debt. This is well over£600m and one third of the city's rent income goes on service in the interest -£63m a year.

If members approve the plan the housing department will submit its proposal to the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) on 26 November. The city council will then continue to work with DETR and the Housing Corporation on the detail before the stock is transferred, which will not be until March 2001.

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