Photo credit: Tower Hamlets Mayor's Office
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Tower Hamlets Council set to move housing services in-house to cut costs

Eighty-six per cent of residents backed the idea of the Council taking over housing services citing value for money and better communication. 

Tower Hamlets Council is looking to move its housing management service back in-house so it can cut down on huge costs and improve the lives of thousands of residents living in its council homes.

Tower Hamlets council has the chance to bring its service back in-house as its contract with Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) ends on March 31, 2024, but must make a decision no later than six months before.

Since 2008, the council has paid THH to manage repairs and fix homes as well as provide services on estates such as caretaking and gardening for around 21,000 residents in the borough.

However, a recent survey found that 86pc of local residents backed the idea of bringing the service back in-house because they believe the council would provide a better service, would be better value for money and would have better communication.

A total of 3,190 people, made up of social housing tenants and leaseholders, took part in the survey, with 2,750 agreeing that the services should be bought back in-house while remaining participants were either against the idea or were undecided. 

Tower Hamlets would follow other London councils such as Lewisham, which will see its housing management service bought back in-house at the end of December 2023.

Of the 20 housing management services called ALMOs (Arms-Length Management Organisation) that were set up in London, only Tower Hamlets Homes, Lewisham Homes, Barnet homes and Sutton Housing Partnership are still operating.

According to council documents, the council’s proposed fees to THH for 2023/24 is £35.5m, which is around a third of the total income in the council’s housing revenue account.

If the service is bought back in-house, the council will have more control over how budgets are set and spent and said it could make ‘immediate savings’ because it would no longer need to fund THH.

A council report noted: ‘Direct and immediate savings would be generated by removing the costs of running a separate company and directly managing services.

‘This saving will be reinvested into housing management services, improvement of homes and new homes.’

The report, which will be presented to cabinet next week, added: ‘In order to ensure oversight of the housing management functions of the council and therefore assurance to our council tenants of our commitment to provide safe, good quality homes and keep their concerns at the forefront of the delivery of these services, it is prudent at this juncture to return the housing management function back in-house under direct control of the council.’

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman has been recommended to bring the service back in-house and will be discussed at a cabinet meeting next Tuesday (February 22).

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might like our piece about Tower Hamlets Council’s new Town Hall

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