Inquiry urged into how Sheffield council may have ‘misled’ 42,000 city tenants

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Opposition councillors are pushing for an independent investigation into accusations that 42,000 Sheffield council tenants were misled before a ballot on the future management of their homes.

Tenants were denied access to a council report into the business case for and against the proposal to take housing management back under council control from Sheffield Homes and instead received communication from the council which said services to tenants would improve.

The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of a return to council management.

However, earlier this month the Information Commissioner ruled that the secret report, called the Project Business Case, should have been released. The report reveals concerns that services to tenants could deteriorate or fail and that three-quarters of council-run housing departments are rated poorly by the Government whereas Sheffield Homes has an excellent rating.

Tenants now claim that they were misled by the council, by not publishing the information at the time of the ballot.

Coun Penny Baker, Sheffield Council’s Liberal Democrat housing spokeswoman, is putting forward a motion to Wednesday’s full council meeting calling for the investigation.

She said: “When Labour councillors took control of this process they promised to be open and transparent. It’s now been made very clear that tenants weren’t given the whole picture.

“Labour councillors seemed not to trust local tenants to make an informed decision. We now need to understand why Labour councillors thought it was acceptable to keep tenants in the dark.

“Anything short of a full and thorough independent investigation would be a kick in the teeth for local tenants.”

Labour replied: “Tenants were given information making the case in favour of both Sheffield Homes and the council. We assessed the information we provided against government guidance, and were satisfied we were compliant.”