Fighting Privatisation in the Housing Sector

A national Defend Council Housing meeting on 11 January in Manchester will build support for campaigns against privatisation, and organise next steps in the fight to defend secure tenancies and low rents, and stop the sell off of council housing.

In 2014 a whole number of councils including Salford, Durham, Gloucester, Northampton, Lewisham and Lambeth will be privatising their housing through stock transfers and Arm’s-Length Management Organisations (ALMOS).

Arms-Length Management Organisations date back to 2000 and are the government’s strategy for two-stage privatisation. Democratic control is lost with the management of homes moved into a separate private company; and tenants’ power is undermined by a board on which tenant reps are outvoted and bound by corporate responsibility. Million of pounds are wasted on consultants, lawyers and other set up costs, new offices and big new salaries for top managers. On the other hand council housing is the only form of housing where tenants elect their landlord, and keeping homes under democratic control.

In the wake of a 15-month review, Northampton Borough Council has recommended that the management of its 12,100 housing stock is transferred to an ALMO supposedly in order to upgrade to decent homes standards in a ‘financially sustainable’ manner.

The review was been carried out by two panels, one of tenants and one of housing staff, which considered six options for the future management of the council’s housing. However, these panels are not representative of the tenants’ views – similar proposals have been fought before. If cabinet and full council agree to set up an ALMO, implementation work would begin in January 2014 and take around 12 months to complete, so any campaigns need to get going quickly.

DCH also reports some disturbing facts about housing in Northampton:

  • Over 800 Northampton council tenants are now in rent arrears of over £680
  • Northampton Council rent arrears are over £1.8 million
  • Northampton Council Homes with no tenants have cost over £700k (loss of rent) since April
  • Eviction notices have surged by over 60% in Northampton

Tenants, trade unions, councillors and campaigners against stock transfer, are asked to come to the DCH national meeting 11-4.30pm Sat 11 January at Manchester Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St M2 5NS. 11am-1pm: How to beat privatisation; 1.30-4.30pm: next steps in the fight for council housing. Local groups campaigning against the Bedroom Tax will meet a week later, Sat 18th January 12 – 4.30pm in Birmingham Paragon Hotel, 145 Alcester Rd Paragon Hotel, 145 Alcester Street, Birmingham B12 0PJ to discuss: Organising to stop evictions, Co-ordinate protests March/April 2014, and ending the Bed Tax in 2014.
Contact benefitjustice@gmail.com for more details.

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