Tenants set to be consulted on council homes changes

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TENANTS of Sheffield’s 42,000 council houses could have a legal right to be fully consulted before any changes are made to the management of homes, the Government has said.

Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts asked a question in Parliament seeking assurances over the future of Sheffield Homes, which has a contract to run the city’s council houses until 2014.

Mr Betts quizzed Andrew Stunnell, Lib Dem Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

He called for a ballot, “because that would give us the security of a proper consultation”.

Mr Betts said: “Changing so fundamentally the management of a tenant’s home is almost as important as changing its ownership, and we should give weight to that.

“Will the minister have a real look at how the guidance might be underpinned statutorily so that, before an arms-length management organisation is allowed to be changed and moved back into a local authority, the Secretary of State can insist real consultation takes place and tenants’ views are listened to?

“That does not happen at the moment.”

Mr Stunnell answered: “Yes. It is important we review the guidance and it would be an unusual local authority that disregarded it.”

The minister said he would look at including changes in law as part of the new Localism Bill, which is currently progressing through parliament.