Truth over homes

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I do not know where academics Dr Cathy Davis and Alan Wigfield, of Sheffield Hallam and Salford universities (Dec 20) get their information or who they represent but they are utterly wrong on two key points when urging tenants to vote to return council housing management to the city council.

They say rents will rise more if Sheffield Homes continues to manage council housing. This is completely untrue as rents have always been and always will be set by the council. Sheffield Homes has had no responsibility for rent-setting.

They also argue that those who control Sheffield Homes are ‘unelected people who were never voted in’. This too is untrue. The company is wholly-owned by the elected city council and operates within a management contract with the council.

Sheffield Homes has 15 directors, seven of whom are elected by all council tenants, three of whom are appointed by the council (currently two councillors and an executive director) and five independents appointed by the board on the recommendation of its nominations committee, which includes council representatives.

Whatever the merits of the different views expressed during the debate about the future of Sheffield Homes, it is vital that tenants are not misled by inaccurate statements by two academics.

Prof Tony Crook, chair, Sheffield Homes 2004-09

As a Sheffield Homes board member, Jose Derrick continues to valiantly defend it (Jan 21) but she she must remember that the organisation was set up in the face of fierce opposition to stock transfer and to access government money for modernisation.

During its existence, Sheffield Homes has had the benefit of millions of government money but with its contract coming to an end and money drying up other things must be considered.

A disadvantage from a funder’s perspective is that if a loan is not secured on assets then it would look for guarantee on rental stream as under PFI. Sheffield Homes has no properties to use as an asset base and would seemingly have to tailor rents to meet repayments on future loans.

Unless the situation has changed, surely this has to be a factor for tenants to seriously consider when deciding to stay with Sheffield Homes or return to the council!

Mary Steele