Agenda item

The future of the housing stock: proposals for future ownership, investment and management

This report considers two recent developments relating to the provision of housing services in Brent.  Firstly, the reform arrangements for the Housing Revenue Account system as proposed by central government. This report sets out the implications of the proposed settlement and in the light of this makes recommendations for the future of the housing stock. Secondly, this report considers the findings of the review of Brent Housing Partnership and makes recommendations for the future management of the housing stock.

Decision:

(i)         that in the light of the recent Housing Revenue Account settlement, the Council retains ownership of its existing housing stock;

 

(ii)        that in the light of the recent Independent Review of Housing Management, the Council consults tenants and residents on a preferred option to manage the housing stock through Brent Housing Partnership, as an Optimised Arms Length Management Organisation focusing strongly on housing management;

 

(iii)       that a new management agreement between the Council and Brent Housing Partnership be drafted, with full heads of terms to be completed by October 2011;

 

(iv)       that in considering how best to optimise BHP, a full review is undertaken of the following functions (to be completed by October 2011), with a view to delivering improvements and efficiencies:

 

human resources

finance processing

communications

legal

procurement

contract alignment

rent accounting

rent collection

aids and adaptations

 

(v)        that a joint governance review is undertaken between the Council and Brent Housing Partnership (to be completed by October 2011), which will review both the BHP Board structure and the relationship between the Council and BHP, with a view to ensuring that BHP is fit for purpose for the duration of the proposed new management agreement;

 

(vi)       that following the outcome of the consultation as set out in paragraph (ii) above and after the reviews set out in paragraphs (iv) and (v) above have been carried out, a report is presented to the Executive in early 2012 regarding a final decision on the future role of BHP and the management of the Council’s housing stock after the current BHP Management Agreement expires in September 2012. 

Minutes:

The report from the Director of Regeneration and Major Projects considered two recent developments relating to the provision of housing services in Brent.  Firstly, the reform arrangements for the Housing Revenue Account system as proposed by central government, which would see a transfer of responsibility from the current national subsidy system to a locally managed, self-financing arrangement.  The report set out the implications of the proposed settlement and in the light of this made recommendations for the future of the housing stock. Secondly, the Council had recently completed an independent review of the housing management arrangements for its housing stock.  The management agreement between the Council and Brent Housing Partnership (BHP), an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) was due to expire in August 2012 and the review considered a range of options in order to test the most effective and efficient arrangements for the future delivery of the housing management service.

 

Councillor Long (Lead Member, Housing) in introducing the report referred to the government’s reform of the Housing Revenue Account system which would have the effect of reducing the HRA debt considerably and resulting in the full range of stock ownership, investment and management options being financially viable over the medium term. On housing management, Councillor Long stated that housing stock transfer as a result of the South Kilburn regeneration programme would eventually mean that the total housing stock within the HRA would reduce to only 7,000 properties. A number of options had been considered including partnership management, outsourcing a directly managed housing management service and she outlined the reasons why these had been discounted. The recommended options were either direct management in-house by the council or an ‘optimised ALMO’. Councillor Long indicated that it was felt that a transfer back to the council would not be popular and would have financial implications. An optimised ALMO was proposed and she referred members to the advantages. Consultation would take place with tenants.

 

The Chair Councillor John paid tribute to valuable work of Brent Housing Partnership (BHP), welcomed Gerry Doherty (BHP, interim Chief Executive) and Kathy Ellison (Chair, BHP Board) to the meeting and stated she looked forward to the future.

 

RESOLVED:-

 

(i)         that in the light of the recent Housing Revenue Account settlement, the council retain ownership of its existing housing stock;

 

(ii)        that in the light of the recent Independent Review of Housing Management, the council consults tenants and residents on a preferred option to manage the housing stock through Brent Housing Partnership, as an Optimised Arms Length Management Organisation focusing strongly on housing management;

 

(iii)       that a new management agreement between the council and Brent Housing Partnership be drafted, with full heads of terms to be completed by October 2011;

 

(iv)       that in considering how best to optimise BHP, a full review be undertaken of the following functions (to be completed by October 2011), with a view to delivering improvements and efficiencies:

 

-       human resources

-       finance processing

-       communications

-       legal

-       procurement

-       contract alignment

-       rent accounting

-       rent collection

-       aids and adaptations

 

(v)        that a joint governance review be undertaken between the council and Brent Housing Partnership (to be completed by October 2011), which would review both the BHP Board structure and the relationship between the council and BHP, with a view to ensuring that BHP was fit for purpose for the duration of the proposed new management agreement;

 

(vi)       that following the outcome of the consultation as set out in paragraph (ii) above and after the reviews set out in paragraphs (iv) and (v) above have been carried out, a report be presented to the Executive in early 2012 regarding a final decision on the future role of BHP and the management of the Council’s housing stock after the current BHP Management Agreement expires in September 2012.

Supporting documents: