Cabinet asked to agree housing merger plan
Our Cabinet members will be asked to consider the merger of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing and our Building Services department.
The new single organisation, if agreed, would then be responsible for the management and maintenance of around 22,500 homes across the district.
Things the Cabinet has to consider
The current contract with KNH will end next year so Cabinet members had asked for all future options for managing council housing to be investigated.
They looked at two options: merging KNH and building services, or maintaining of the current arm’s length management arrangements.
They had a number of things to consider including:
- changes to the way the council is funded
- The opportunities a merger would bring
- the constant need to improve standards of housing and services to tenants
- The consultants report into the pros and cons of a merger
The potential benefits of a merger
The consultant’s report said there were clear opportunities for savings, and for potential to generate a surplus that could be reinvested in the service.
KNH have already demonstrated they can manage the service they have and a clear link to tenants, and the changes would provide an impetus to improve and modernise services still further.
Repairs and asset management programmes would run together, allowing greater planning and efficiency.
The potential negatives of a merger
Some of the cons in the report included; a potential increase in financial pressure on other council budgets, potential union opposition, a possible lack of commercial culture in the organisations, and a risk that the new organisation would be outside direct council control.
Cabinet Member’s opinion
Cllr Cathy Scott our cabinet member for housing said that considering all these things she felt that the merger provided the best option.
“This has been an extensive process of narrowing down options and fully investigating the ones we thought were most viable.
“We have consulted widely with tenants and residents groups, employees of both KNH and Building Services, political groups, trade unions, the KNH board and the wider public and schools through an online survey.
“I am now confident that the merger is the right plan in principle, and we need to move quickly now to set out the clear contractual arrangements and expectations that will need to be in place.”
“I will recommend the merger having taken all of the option appraisals into account. These are two high performing organisations and they would merge to build on those strengths and improve still further.
“Given the financial climate we face, I believe this is the best opportunity we have to meet three aims of improving housing services across the district based on high quality service to tenants, identifying the efficiencies which will help us address the challenge of the 1% annual rent reduction we have to deliver, and supporting the council in our overall strategic objectives”
There are currently around 500 Building Services staff and 320 KNH staff.
Cabinet will meet to discuss the option on Tuesday 9 February.