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Housing on the move in Waltham Forest

Following an options appraisal including extensive consultation with tenants and leaseholders, Waltham Forest Council has decided to take back management of its 12,221 homes from Ascham Homes, its arms-length management organisation. The change will also see the Council take direct responsibility for homelessness services and private sector licensing.


Due to be complete by January 2016, the move will save more than £300,000 a year, which will be reinvested back into the housing services that the borough’s 10,244 tenants and 1,977 leaseholders currently receive.


The decision was made at today’s Cabinet meeting (23 June) following a consultation which saw a majority (64 per cent) of tenants and leaseholders who took part in the survey opt for the housing service to return to the Council. 


Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, Cabinet Member for Housing at Waltham Forest Council said: “This is a significant moment for the Council and Council tenants. We’ve carried out a major review of housing services and asked tenants and leaseholders how they wanted their homes to be managed in the future. The majority of those who responded wanted the management to return to the Council so that is what we’re doing.


“Along with providing improved, more joined up services, savings will be made which can be reinvested into making better homes and estates for our residents.


“We’re also kicking off the move with a 100 day action plan to find out and focus on what matters most to our tenants and leaseholders. We’ll be making a concerted effort to clear the backlog of communal repairs that need doing, and looking at how we can improve green spaces by planting on individual estates so that residents enjoy using them.“This is a once in a generation chance to redesign housing in Waltham Forest to make it a 21st century offer.”


Ascham Homes was established in 2003, primarily to help the Council access Decent Homes Funding from the Government to improve the condition of its housing stock. With the Decent Homes Programme complete, the Council had the opportunity to review whether Ascham Homes was still needed.  As responsibility for housing services transfers to the Council, staff working for Ascham Homes will be transferred under TUPE employment regulations. 


Cllr Limbajee added: “Ascham Homes staff have done a great job in delivering the Decent Homes Programme, as well as a range of other services. We thank Ascham Homes staff and the board for their hard work and dedication and will be working with them to make sure this is a smooth transition for everyone.”


Coupled with other factors including the Council’s focus on housing and regeneration, cuts in government funding and changes to the Housing Revenue Account, the return of housing services to the Council follows an appetite for change expressed by tenants and leaseholders.


Earlier this year, the Council ran a consultation to determine how affected residents wanted their homes to be managed going forwards. The consultation attracted 886 responses; 653 of which were from tenants and leaseholders. Nearly two-thirds of respondents, 64 per cent, stated that they wanted services to return to the Council.


The transfer will be complete by January 2016 and in the meantime, tenants and leaseholders will access housing services and report repairs in the same ways as usual – whether they are currently in a home managed by Ascham Homes or a Tenant Management Organisation. Tenants and leaseholders who have ideas about improving housing services can send them directly to the Council by emailing homes@walthamforest.gov.uk


ENDS


Notes to editors:


100 Day Action Plan


While the transfer of housing services will take a few months to complete, the Council is focusing on things that are important to residents to kick-start the move. It has a 100 day plan focusing on four key areas:



  • Developing ideas on how we can help vulnerable tenants to manage their front gardens and do small things around the home that can sometimes be tricky, like moving furniture and changing lightbulbs.

  • Putting in place a plan to clear the backlog of any reported and agreed communal repairs.

  • Looking at how we can roll out a planting strategy on different estates to improve communal green spaces and help residents enjoy them more.

  • Holding a series of family events in different parts of the borough to bring local communities and neighbours together. 


Tenants and leaseholders with views about how the Council can improve housing services for them and their family can email homes@walthamforest.gov.uk

If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at media@walthamforest.gov.uk or on 020 8496 3000.