Future of Your Homes Newcastle
Our management agreement with Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), set up in 2004, is gradually drawing to an end. YHN has been a great success and has an outstanding record of service delivery and is greatly trusted and valued by its tenants.
In particular, the YHN Board and its staff deserve great praise for successfully implementing their Modern Homes Programme – the city’s biggest ever housing-improvement scheme – in which hundreds of millions of pounds were invested in modernising our council homes.
This mammoth undertaking took seven years to deliver and was completed in December 2012
For these reasons, the council has categorically ruled out selling it off to another provider or bringing it in-house.
Indeed, YHN’s long-term future as managing agent of the council’s social housing stock is secure and very positive.
We are in a difficult operating environment brought about by significant reductions in local government funding and this has caused us to review our relationships with all partners. In the context of the new reality we are confronting, our relationship with our arm’s length organisation (ALMO) cannot sit still. So we will now look to work with YHN to develop proposals which will bring greater certainty to the future management and financing of Newcastle’s council-owned housing stock.
The discussions will reflect the council’s vision for a new future; one in which tenants have a stronger voice; one in which tenants help lead the direction of the organisation; one in which tenants have a direct influence in all decisions made about them which effect their lives.
The objective will be that tenants will notice no day-to-day difference. This means YHN will still collect their rent, organise their repairs, deal with face-to-face queries and issues of concern and help with advice about welfare. YHN will continue to manage our council-owned housing stock.
Any changes will largely be invisible to them, though the impacts will be hugely beneficial.
We will ensure that there is closer alignment between YHN and the council’s priorities through a joint approach to business planning. It will help to more effectively align our investment programmes and allow us to maintain a 30-year business plan.
It will also help us to develop a model for direct tenant involvement in governance arrangements. Last but not least, it will identify efficiencies and every penny saved can be re-invested into frontline services.
There is still a good deal of work to do work through these proposals and, if approved by cabinet, we anticipate that the new arrangements won’t be fully in place until April 2016.
But the future for YHN, as an organisation with tenants more fully in the driving seat, is a bright one.