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Arm’s Length Management Organisations

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultation a local authority is required to undertake before any significant change is made to management arrangements with an arm's length management organisation; what consultation is required before an arm's length management organisation is established; and if she will make a statement. (219788)

Under s105 of the Housing Act 1985 local authorities are required to consult with their tenants on any significant change in housing management arrangements. We would expect any such consultation to be as comprehensive as that undertaken to set up the ALMO. Tenants will have been fully involved in the decision to set up an ALMO, both as part of the options appraisal process and the consultation on the ALMO option itself.

We debated during passage of the Housing and Regeneration Bill whether a statutory ballot of tenants should be part of this consultation process. I did pledge during the passage of the Bill, that, although I disagreed with the amendments relating to this topic, when we look at the renewal of guidance, we might need to look at this issue again.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she issues to local authorities on the resolution of failings in an arm's length management organisation through discussions between the organisation and the Audit Commission. (219789)

Departmental ALMO guidance, updated in June 2006, and the “Review of Arms Length Management Organisations”, also published in June 2006 together with two other relevant documents, the “ALMO re-inspection framework”, and the “ALMO support framework” set out the Department's expectations around failing services in ALMOs.

The Audit Commission is one of a range of stakeholders who may be able to offer help should performance be an issue of concern to either the parent local authority or the ALMO itself. Local authorities can request this assistance on behalf of their ALMOs. The Commission has experience of offering such services to a wide range of local housing authorities that are looking at ways to improve their performance.

The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 establishes the Tenant Services Authority (TSA). Initially, the TSA will only regulate housing associations but the Bill includes an enabling power to allow it to regulate across the social housing domain via secondary legislation. In the longer term ALMOs will, via their parent local authority, be subject to the same regulatory regime as all social housing providers.