Council may take on social housing stock

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

Responsibility for Wigan’s social housing could return to the council as the town hall plots changes to bring about huge savings.

More than 22,000 homes are currently managed by arm’s length management organisation (Almo) Wigan and Leigh Homes.

Following a review, council bosses have suggested bringing the organisation back to the council and are set to launch a consultation.

In a local authority report set to be discussed by cabinet members next week, officers said a need “to make savings and efficiencies” were among the reasons to review the role of the Almo.

Also referenced are changes to“government policy changes” regarding funding for social housing in addition to “the re-structure within the council” and “the retirement of the chief executive of Wigan and Leigh Homes.”

The consultation - which will go out to service users and other residents - will take place from November.

Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director for economy and environment, said: “This is a proposal for a significant change in how we deliver housing services in Wigan borough, and we would urge all tenants to take part in the consultation from November and let us know what they think of the proposals, and how we can continue to improve tenant engagement.

“It is essential that the consultation involves as many people as possible so we can move forward confidently with a housing service that can achieve the very best for residents in the years ahead.”

Benefits of bringing WALH under the council’s organisational umbrella with other health and social care services include making efficiency savings which can be ploughed back into frontline services and greater opportunities for more regeneration projects, the town hall said.

The report reads: “As part of any future model, tenant engagement and satisfaction will remain crucial.

“The intention is that a board would remain, which would include tenant representation.

“Likewise, area forums remain a useful vehicle to give tenants a voice and should remain.

“The consultation exercise will be used to help inform how tenant engagement and involvement can be retained and improved going forward.”

The town hall formed the Almo in 2001 having secured £58m in funding to transform its then stock of 26,000 homes.

It was among a first batch of just eight councils to do so, transferring the day-to-day running of the organisation to Wigan and Leigh Housing but retaining ownership of the housing stock.

The consultation period for the organisational change will begin in November and close in mid-January with a final report presented to cabinet in February.