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STOCK TRANSFER - A TALE OF TWO CITIES

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The Chartered Institute of Housing's analysis of why tenants voted YES to stock transfer in ...
The Chartered Institute of Housing's analysis of why tenants voted YES to stock transfer in Glasgowand NO in Birmingham :

* There are no alternative options for raising large scale

investment for council housing in Scotland (eg, arms length management

organisations are not an option). The Scottish executive has made it clear

that the only solution in Glasgow was transfer in some form.

* Rent levels in Birmingham are set to rise whether or not a

transfer had taken place due to the government's policies on rent

convergence, but despite this tenants may have linked projected rent

increases with the transfer proposals. In Glasgow, council rents are already

relatively high and Glasgow's tenants have been promised a rents freeze.

Housing association rents in Glasgow are generally no higher than council

rents.

* Housing conditions in the public sector are generally worse

in Glasgow than in Birmingham making the need to secure improvements even

more urgent.

* Glasgow's transfer vehicle has a more localised structure

than Birmingham's with 62 local organisations compared to 10 in Birmingham.

Tenants would form a majority on local boards in Glasgow, while in

Birmingham councillors and independent members would have formed a majority

over tenants.

* The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 has introduced a single

tenancy for social housing tenants in Scotland. In England and Wales, this

idea is only at the discussion stage as part of a Law Commission review.

Tenants in Birmingham may therefore have been concerned about moving from

secure to assured tenancies.

* Although housing debt is high in both cities, in Glasgow it

was much more significant as an issue because of the differences between

housing subsidy arrangements in England and Scotland. Glasgow tenants are

paying about 40p in every pound of their rent towards debt costs. In

Scotland, lifting the debt burden is only on offer through transfer. In

England, councils who don't transfer continue to get subsidy towards their

HRA debts.

* In contrast to England, breakage costs (the redemption fees

charged for paying off loans early) have been written off by the Scottish

Executive. This would have helped a more attractive package to be developed

for Glasgow.

* In Scotland, local authorities who have transferred their

stock are to take on responsibility for grant funding new RSL developments

as part of their strategic role, while in England this will remain with the

Housing Corporation. This may have led to more political support for

transfer in Glasgow which indirectly fed through to tenants.

* There is a history of small scale community based transfers

in Glasgow. Only a few large scale partial transfers have previously taken

place in Birmingham. Glasgow tenants on many estates could see examples of

community-based transfer organisations that had already delivered improved

homes and services.

* The decision to go for transfer in Birmingham was highly

contentious among local councillors. Although there was a vigorous 'no'

campaign in Glasgow, there wasn't the same division in the governing party

and the Scottish executive was high profile in support of transfer.

* In Birmingham a much higher level of demolitions was

proposed than in Glasgow and tenants were concerned about what would happen

to households displaced by this. Glasgow tenants have seen demolitions

taking place already over a period of several years.

* There is a perception that the public sector unions mounted

a more effective No campaign in Birmingham than in Glasgow (see LGCnet ).

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