Analysis of housing stock transfers
Audit Scotland’s report into council housing transfers was published today, focusing on those which have taken place since 1998 including Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway and Borders.
Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said: ‘This has been a resounding success story for Scotland. As the report makes abundantly clear, tenants are benefiting from higher investment, stable rents, more control and better services. Moreover, two thirds of tenant groups surveyed by Audit Scotland said the quality of repairs and maintenance had improved after transfer. And 80 per cent said there had been more investment in improvements. I am grateful for this independent expert evaluation. It highlights areas for improvement but also acknowledges that we have already learned valuable lessons to build significant strengths into the present system through our new guidance.
But the report questioned whether Stock transfer is providing demonstrable value for money.
Audit Scotland found a lack of competition between housing associations set up to take over council homes. The absence of targets and benchmarks made it impossible to judge whether transfer represents value for taxpayers’ money.
Audit Scotland told the executive in future it must continue to develop its evaluation framework to ensure value for money. It should also seek to put in place benchmarks and operating cost comparisons to evaluate transfer landlords’ performance against the executive’s policy goals.
Tenant satisfaction and the level of tenant engagement had both increased following stock transfer, but the report warned there was more to do to ensure tenant empowerment. Communities Scotland’s inspection of stock transfer landlords, due to begin later this year, would improve performance in that area, the auditors said.
Mr Chisholm said stock transfer has already transformed the lives of thousands of Scots. More than 100,000 tenants are already under new not-for profit organisations, a further 50,000 are due to vote later this year.
‘It has made community ownership a reality so that local people really do have a say in their housing – and their future.’
He conceded, ‘There is more work to be done, particularly in delivering second stage transfer in Glasgow, but I and everyone else concerned is determined to make this happen as quickly as possible.’
Stirling Council has put back its stock transfer ballot. The authority had made provisional plans to hold the ballot this spring, but it is now likely to be held closer to the end of the year.
Stewart MacKenzie, project manager for Housing Stirling, which has been set up to take over the stock, said: ‘This is really to give tenants a further period of time to be consulted on the proposals that have been worked up.’
Sources: Scottish Executive; Inside Housing.