The Glasgow Herald (David Leask) reported on the 30th August that ‘It now appears some two-thirds of Glasgow tenants – in 46,272 of its current 69,395 houses – will remain in a “rump GHA”.’
The details are:
- 3% (=2,097) of Glasgow Housing Association houses are up for ballot (November 2008) on second stage transfer to a community based housing association.
- 30% (=20,985) of GHA houses are in Local Housng Organisations that are still progressing (at a snails pace) through the various stages of the GHA’s processes towards potential second stage transfer someday.
- 67% (=46,272) of GHA houses are in LHOs that the GHA regards as being ruled out of the case for second stage transfer. They (lucky them) get to stay in a “rump GHA” forever.
This movement on second stage transfer is being hailed as a great victory of the SNP government. A closer look at the numbers indicates there may be some over egging of the pudding going on. Although, in fairness, even 3% is more than the old Labour/Liberal government managed to achieve. But it is still very, very small beer.
And if, when the whole process finally draws to a close, 2/3rds or more of GHA remains as a “rump GHA” until the end of time, what then for the promises made to those tenants during the stock transfer ballot?
A “rump GHA” might end up suiting a lot of the community based housing associations, who would effectively have been given cherry picking rights to the best 1/3rd of the stock. But it won’t suit the 50,000 tenants left behind. Nor will it suit those, such as Glasgow City Council, who are, or ought to be, attempting to deal with the wider housing issues in Glasgow.
If realities dictate that there must be a large “rump GHA” left in place, then serious consideration should be given to simply returning that rump back to Glasgow City Council control. The rump will be all the multis and other flats in deprived areas, and will always be the destination for most all of Glasgow’s many homeless referrals from Social Work. Glasgow City Council has an obvious interest in it functioning correctly, in a completely different way to the Council’s interest in the city’s many little run-of-the-mill housing associations.
Alternatively, the “rump GHA” could be made more open, democratic, accountable, and responsive to the needs and concerns of its tenants and owner-occupiers. That would mean substantial constitutional changes – devolution of financial power to LHOs, fully open elections, no ‘independents’ on the board. Which, as a pre-requisite, would require drastic changes to the current composition of the GHA board.
Either of those would need action from both Ministers and Parliament. In the absence of that, GHA and its rump will continue on, as they are now, forever.
Of course the movement on SST is being milked for all it is worth by everyone.
What matters is that GHA have convinced all stand alone LHOs that there is no alternative because of this mysterious funding black hole and a lack of will on the part of chairs, committees and their staff to push for fulfilment of the promises made in the original transfer agreement. It is amazing what a trip out of the city can achieve.
The chairs forum now lines up as:
- Group A = 67% non aligned = no SST.
- Group B =30% aligned = still to be confirmed.(amber)
- Group C = 3% aligned = ballot (green)
Group A are negotiating their way through the future business plan which GHA will present to the Government and Council when trying to re-negotiate the terms of the original transfer.
This has a threefold agenda:
- Firstly it allows GHA to exist till the end of time;
- Secondly it allows GHA access to HAG Funding and Supporting People Funding;
- and third but not least would allow GHA to perform as an arms length company of the Council in terms of all statutory requirements incumbent on the council i.e. homelessness, NASS, resettlement and provision for migrants.