Kirklees approves plans to bring 22,000 homes back in-house

Kirklees Council's decision effectively scraps its arms-length management organisation (ALMO) Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH).
Housing in Kirklees. Credit: Richard Harvey/Creative Commons

Kirklees Council has approved plans to bring the management and maintenance of its housing back in-house.

The decision by the West Yorkshire council’s cabinet yesterday (20 October 2020) effectively scraps the council’s arms-length management organisation (ALMO) Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH), which has overseen Kirklees Council’s housing since 2002.

The decision, discussed between the council and KNH for the past year, will affect over 22,000 homes in Kirklees – around one eighth of all residential housing in the borough.

It follows extensive consultation with tenants over the summer which saw widespread support for the proposal.

Cllr Cathy Scott, cabinet member for housing and democracy on Kirklees Council, said: “This is the right decision and an exciting moment for the future of housing in Kirklees. Bringing KNH and the council together means we can achieve more for tenants and communities.

“A new model means we can work together more effectively to achieve the things that really matter to people and we will be accountable, as a single organisation, for delivering them.”

The move follows the recommendations of a Local Government Association report published in November 2019, which found that the council’s ambitions would be better delivered through a new housing management model.

Numerous models were explored by a council scrutiny panel and the council concluded in June 2020 that a single, council-run, service was its preferred option.

The council says that bringing its housing services back in-house will strengthen its ambitions to move to a more ‘place-based’ form of working, helping it be more accountable to tenants and better deliver local priorities on health, inequalities and the environment.

Over 2,000 Kirklees residents responded to the council’s consultation on the proposals, with most respondents supporting the move. The council will now use the feedback it has received to shape its new housing service.

“High quality homes are essential for people to thrive,” Cllr Scott added. “So it’s right that we have listened to independent experts, councillors and – most importantly – tenants themselves before we came to this conclusion.

“That’s exactly how we intend to go on, because the most important people in all of this are tenants. This decision will give residents a strong voice in shaping their homes and communities for the long term. We’ve started this process with a listening exercise and that is the spirit in which we will continue. This is about delivering the very best housing that works for those who live here.”

KNH’s responsibilities will now transfer to the council at the end of March 2021. The council says that tenants’ rights and status will not be affected by the change.

Councils are increasingly closing their ALMOs as they look to regain control of their housing stock. Four councils in East Kent recently closed their ALMO East Kent Housing, while Manchester City Council is considering closing Northwards Housing.

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