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Westminster plans to bring almo back under council control

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Westminster City Council has confirmed that it intends to bring its arms-length management organisation (almo) back in-house after it was found to be “failing” residents on service delivery.

The final decision on the almo’s future, which provides housing services for more than 12,000 social housing tenants and 9,000 leaseholders, will be decided at cabinet on 15 October.

Andrew Smith (Con), cabinet member for housing and customer service, said: “We’re clear that our residents in council-owned housing deserve the best service.

“Concerns from residents and ward councillors, which have been confirmed by an independent review and now the latest findings from the task group, demonstrates CityWest Homes is failing to provide this, despite action we’ve taken to date.”

In January, the Labour group called for a “radical overhaul” of the almo, after it published a dossier of ’20 nightmare stories’ from residents. Paul Dimoldenberg (Lab) said at the time of the report that “many more similar stories of incompetence and neglect” were going unreported.

Westminster’s scrutiny committee then heard in March how the almo was working on a process of “simplifying services and reducing inefficiency” to save £5m over the coming five years.

Westminster Labour group leader Adam Hug said: “We are delighted that the council has listened to the deep concerns of CityWest Homes tenants and leaseholders by taking the service back in-house. There is much still to do in order to improve the services residents receive but this is a welcome step forward.”

A 2015 independent review of the almo found there was “no financial or performance imperative” to bring the organisation back in-house, so long as service improvement continued.

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