Burngreave Messenger.
Issue 39 March 2004

Sweeping changes for Council housing

by Richard Belbin

Sweeping changes are being made to the system of Council House provision across Sheffield. As well as the new ‘choice based lettings’ scheme (see Stop waiting – make your bid!) ‘Neighbourhood Commissions’ are being introduced across the city, to assess plans to bring in the extra investment needed to bring Council homes up to the government's Decent Homes Standard by the 2010 deadline.

The Commission for Area K (Burngreave, Darnall, and Tinsley) will begin their fortnightly meetings in early February, and whilst the precise membership has not yet been decided, it will be made up of local councillors, tenants’ representatives, residents, and other member of the local community. It is expected that its recommendations will be made by June, after which, tenants will be balloted to see if they support those recommendations.

The Commission will be looking at different options for drawing down government funding – stock transfer, Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs), and Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Whilst it will be looking at the entirety of Area K, it is possible that different recommendations will be made for different estates, as happened in Area D where an ALMO was recommended for Brightside, and stock transfer for Shiregreen.

The commissions are necessary according to Sheffield City Council because: “Remaining with the Council without involving an ALMO or entering into PFI arrangements will not bring in the money needed to bring properties up to the government’s Decent Homes Standard by 2010. Across Sheffield £1 billion is needed for improvements, the Council only has access to £400 million without these three options.”

The campaigning group Defend Council Housing disputes this however. Local member Kevin Hartney said: “These commissions are part of a long-term strategy to divide the city up and privatize it by sections. The funding is there, we need to fight to make central government hand it over now. To insist it is only there if people accept ALMOs, which is a step towards privatization, is undemocratic and blackmail.”

For further information on the Commission, please contact Carl Borg at Burngreave Housing Office on
203 9341.


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Index for Issue 39 March 2004.