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St Edmundsbury BC will this week transfer ownership and ...
St Edmundsbury BC will this week transfer ownership and

management of its housing stock of 6,022 tenanted dwellings to

Havebury Housing Partnership, a new local housing company.

The Partnership is paying£45.1m to acquire the stock. The

council will use part of this receipt for 180 additional social homes

in the borough.

Housing minister Tony McNulty said the transfer will ensure tenants

have a greater say in the managing their homes, including receiving

modernisation and repairs during the next five years to achieve the

Government's decent homes standard.

'Havebury Housing Partnership will have access to additional private

funding, providing tenants the opportunity to receive an accelerated

programme of repairs and improvements to their homes at an affordable

rent. This is consistent with social housing of a similar standard in

the area.'

The council held a ballot of tenants in September-October 2001. Of

those who voted, 71 per cent supported the proposed transfer.

Today's announcement brings the number of approved large-scale

voluntary transfers of local authority housing stock to 126,

involving 625,000 homes. These transfers have raised more than£10bn in private finance to purchase and invest in the housing

stock, forming a key part of the government's commitment to bring all

social housing up to a decent standard by 2010.


1. Provision to set up Local Housing Companies (LHCs) appears under

the Housing Act 1996. LHCs allow greater local authority and tenant

participation than other registered social landlords such as

housing associations.

2. Under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act

1993 a local authority proposing a transfer of more than 499

dwellings must first obtain a place on an annual programme approved

by the secretary of state. Councils must then obtain the consent of

the secretary of state under the Housing Act 1985 for each transfer

after it has formally consulted its tenants.

3. This is the first LSVT incorporating the 'VAT shelter'. This

involves the new landlord paying a higher receipt including an

estimate of the stock after improvements. The council then

immediately repay all or the majority of the part of the receipt

relating to the improvement costs and contract these works out at

zero rate VAT. The consequent VAT saving is that typically used to

improve the new landlord's business plan and hence the service

provided to tenants though can be used, or partly used, to boost

the receipt to the council for the stock. The decision on this

split is for agreement by the parties involved, although the ODPM

would expect councils to maximise the receipt in the case of an

overhanging debt LSVT.

- In St Edmundsbury's case, around one third of the VAT saving has

been used to guarantee a receipt of£45.1m, as above,

against the effect of any right to buys prior to transfer. The

remainder will be used to benefit Havebury Housing Partnership's

business plan.

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