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BIRMINGHAM HOUSING DEPARTMENT TO CONSIDER ARM'S LENGTH BREAKUP

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A report commissioned by Birmingham City Council following a tenants' vote against housing stock transfer has come ...
A report commissioned by Birmingham City Council following a tenants' vote against housing stock transfer has come up with a radical solution which would largely replace the council's housing department with a number of small agencies.

The government's plan to transfer 88,000 homes out of council control suffered a serious setback when around 70% voted against the plan (LGC, 12 April).

Unions and anti-privatisation campaigners claimed a massive victory because government ministers saw the project as a landmark for large-scale stock transfer.

At the time, planning minister Lord Falconer remained committed to driving through stock transfer and suggested the council should transfer its housing to an arm's length management organisation.

Unison national officer Colin Meech was furious that transferring control from the council was being considered despite the earlier 'no' vote.

He said: 'We will stand by the tenants as we did during the stock transfer process and we will oppose any form of proposal that seeks to privatise their homes and transfer away their rights.'

The report, called One size doesn't fit all - community housing and flourishing neighbourhoods, recommended new community-based organisations, which would control 80% of the housing management budget and all the repairs budget.

The council plans to establish two pathfinder areas within three months to develop community housing organisations.

The scheme may prove a popular alternative to wholesale stock transfer and is likely to be endorsed by the government.

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