9 September 2009
Slough Borough Council's Social Homes & the ALMO

Slough Borough Council's Social Housing.

Circa 2003 or 2004 Labour prime minister Tony Blair's government refused to give money to Slough Borough Council for renewal of old council houses and flats. Tony Blair wanted the council to privatised all its council own homes. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council privatised their housing stock and transferred everything to Windsor Housing and Parkside Housing. South Bucks district council privatised their housing stock and transferred everything to Beacon Housing which has at least twice been taken over by larger privately run housing associations.

The national government's plans was a scheme called Decent Homes for the Future. It had to be implemented by 2010. Then council housing director Rosemary Westbrook said at a council meeting that Decent Homes was only a "modest standard of improvement".

Council residential tenants (as opposed to business premises tenants) were opposed to Labour's privatisation demands. Council officials proposed a choice of options ranging:-

The ALMO would collect rents, supervise repairs and maintenance and be generally responsible for the daily management of all council homes and all council leasehold homes.

The choice was for an ALMO. It is uncertain who exactly made the choice and it is most unlikely that choice was decided by the council tenants. What probably happened is the council's own created tenants group - which was and still is funded, staffed, housed, equiped and at meetings actually feed (food) by the council - proposed their own choice. That often dictorial group calls itself the The Federation of Slough Tenants and Residents.

ALMO means Arms Length Management Company. The theory was the council would not directly intervene even though the council owned the ALMO company and remained the tenants' landlord.

Council officials spent over 100,000 of public money encouraging tenants to vote as the council officials wanted (Democracy just does not exist in Slough). The endless public funded campaign to make tenants vote the way their council superiors wanted was, in effect, a mass brain-washing campaign. It was so successful that only 43.2% of council tenants and leaseholders bothered to vote. The majority just did not trust Slough Council.

Because of the national Labour Party government withholding money for housing renovations, SBC's social housing was transferred to an ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) People 1st (Slough) Limited on 1 January 2006.

People 1st (Slough) Limited is run by Hounslow Homes managers. It now costs Slough Borough Council more money to do the same work.

The Council Tenants' Housing Account is technically known as the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). This account consists of the tenants' rents and government grants. Money from this account is used to pay for repairs, routine maintenance and modernisation of council homes.

Slough Borough Council's general account owes the tenants' HRA £5.5 million.  If this owing money was available, more repairs, more maintenance and more modernisation could be carried-out.

Every year Slough Borough Council transfers more than £1 million out of the tenants' HRA.

This financial year, April 2004 to March 2005, Slough Borough Council has taken out of the tenants' HRA the sum of £7.8 million for "management fees".  In financial year April 2005 to March 2006 the council is charging the tenants' HRA the sum of £8.4 million for "management fees".