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WALES OFFERS TRANSFER FOR MUTUAL BENEFIT

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Councils in Wales could soon be able to transfer their entire housing stock to associations run by tenants, under p...
Councils in Wales could soon be able to transfer their entire housing stock to associations run by tenants, under plans being considered by the Welsh Assembly.

Assembly housing director John Bader said plans to allow councils to transfer ownership and management to new 'community mutual' organisations have been sent to the Financial Services Authority for approval.

The plans could save councils millions of pounds, as Welsh housing policy mirrors that in Scotland, where the Scottish Executive has promised to write off billions of pounds worth of debt.

The Scottish Executive recently pledged to disregard Glasgow City Council's debt of£900m if a stock transfer goes ahead.

Mr Bader said: 'In terms of debt, the policies agreed for Wales and Scotland are identical. Any debt to the Public Works Loan Board would be written off.'

A Welsh Local Government Association report into the plans said: 'The option is proving to be very attractive to a wide range of interest groups because it would not only provide a route to secure additional private investment, but it is also seen as capable of contributing to community regeneration by creating tenant-led management.'

However, it said there are many unanswered questions and risks, particularly on councils' ability to meet statutory responsibilities in areas such as homelessness.

Mr Bader added: 'The final draft has been sent to the FSA for registration. The mutual model means every tenant will be a shareholder. The tenants would effectively own the assets as a collective.'

There have been no stock transfers so far in Wales and this latest move marks a dramatic change in the Assembly's approach to transferring housing stock.

The new organisations will be registered social landlords. They will either be societies approved by the FSA or companies limited by guarantee.

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