Social housing shake-up to save millions

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

Wigan Council will save £5.5m by taking back control of the majority of the borough’s social housing stock, a report has revealed.

The cash-strapped local authority is faced with a savings target of £43m by 2020 and hopes re-integrating Wigan and Leigh Homes will help.

A report due to be considered by town hall’s ruling cabinet this week says the move will save £1m next year, with the rest of the savings over the next three years. More than 22,000 homes are currently managed by arm’s length management organisation (Almo) WALH.

Council bosses announced the proposals in September and have conducted a public consultation in the intervening months.

The latest report states plans for staff to be transferred into the council’s existing housing team and reveals the results from the consultation .

From 171 responses received during the consultation from tenants, 14 disagreed with the plans to return functions back to the council.

And the most valued service tenants wanted prioritising was repairs, the figures show.

The report reads: “The reintegration of Wigan and Leigh Homes provides opportunities to improve outcomes for tenants, but also realise significant financial savings through removing the cost of running a separate company, efficiency savings, and better use of the housing Revenue Account.”

Benefits of bringing WALH under the council’s organisational umbrella with other health and social care services include making efficiency savings which can be ploughed back into frontline services and greater opportunities for more regeneration projects, the town hall said.

Talking about the proposals last year, Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director for economy and environment, said: “This plan is for a significant change in how we deliver housing services in Wigan borough.”

The town hall formed the Almo in 2001 having secured £58m in funding to transform its then stock of 26,000 homes.

It was among a first batch of just eight councils to do so, transferring the day-to-day running of the organisation to Wigan and Leigh Housing but retaining ownership of the housing stock.

If the re-integration plan is approved by the cabinet this month and then the full council in March, the functions of WALH will transfer to the town hall from April 1.