I’d like to pick up on points raised from letters on the ballot over future management of the city’s council housing stock.
It is true that the council sets rent levels, but it does this by following a government formula. The latest is grossly unfair and we need to pressure our council to join with many other local authorities pushing for a re-think. Councils have more lobbying power than semi-private organisations.
Sheffield Homes was set up on a 10-year contract solely to carry out the Decent Homes programme.
This is nearly complete so it no longer has access to major funds. A future Almo would not be like the current one. What kind of organisation would it be?
The coalition says that Almos should be encouraged to become housing associations. This is moving into the private sector. They borrow from banks and are then bound into shorter payback periods. Higher interest repayments are passed to tenants via higher rents.
Sheffield is the first council to ballot tenants on this. Others, after some sample consultation have decided in-house management is the most accountable and economic model.
Tenants have been involved in much of the delivery of housing services over the last eight years, helping shape decision making. But much was in implementing the Decent Homes programme. Now that is nearly complete, involvement will have to be different. Participation is not unique to Sheffield Homes; the council has a history of tenant participation and involvement.
As someone who has worked in housing for 15 years and as a Defend Council Housing campaigner, I urge tenants vote for direct councl management.
Don’t leave it at that: demand that rents should be genuinely affordable, fight for council housing to remain in the public sector, call for the continuation of secure tenancies and for a massive programme of new council house building to end the scandal of prohibitively high rents for insecure tenancies in poorly maintained private sector properties.
Carrie Hedderwick, S5