More than 2,000 Council homes in Chiswick could be transferred to a new 'Arms Length Organisation' following the allocation of £35 million over two years by the DTLR. The money is available to fund additional improvements to Hounslow's housing stock over the next two years, to ensure the homes meet the Government's 'decent homes standard' within ten years.

The successful allocation means that Hounslow is on target for up to £90 million of funding over the next four years, once the Government completes its Comprehensive Spending Review in 2002. Hounslow is amongst the first wave of Council's with the opportunity to move its housing management department to arms length, and is the largest in the South of England.

The grant represents proportionally £2500 for every council house in Chiswick. This includes the Hogarth Estate, Edensor Gardens Estate and Alexandra Gardens and Montgomery Court Estates.

The announcement of Hounslow as one of the first council's to be identified as suitable to set up an Arms Length Management Organisation was made in a Parliamentary Answer by the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, Stephen Byers.

Chris Langstaff, Director of Housing at Hounslow, said, "this will provide us with a tremendous opportunity to deliver first class council housing in Hounslow, and improve on our successes so far. We work very closely with tenants, local MPs and the Government and it is only because of this relationship that we have been able to apply for this package, with the confidence of our tenants."

The priority for major improvements has already been identified as the replacement of windows, bathrooms and kitchens in homes. Other priorities identified as instrumental in achieving the decent homes standard include additional security systems and updating of heating systems.
Hounslow's communications team has been informing residents about the funding options available following the publication of the Housing Green Paper, including PFI schemes, stock transfer and arms length. Residents are also being consulted about future changes to housing management, especially with relation to arms length and stock transfer.

Results from the latest survey show that tenants are 87% in favour of changes to the housing service if it meant increased investment to improve homes. Tenants are also 90% in favour of the council continuing to own council homes and 85% would not want to see changes to tenants rights.

Alf Chandler, Chair of HFTRA (Hounslow Federation of Tenants and Resident Associations), said, "this is wonderful news for tenants and it means that we will be able to see the improvements we have been seeking for some time. Housing has been underfunded for too long and it is good to see more money being put in by the government to ensure our homes are of a decent standard, especially in Hounslow. HFTRA has supported the bid for this council owned
housing organisation because we believe it is important that the council continues to own council homes. It is now up to us to ensure that tenants and councillors can jointly agree with this option and approve arms-length for Hounslow".

Councillors will be presented with a proposal to pursue the arms length option at the next full Council meeting in December. Hounslow will then be expected to carry out a test of opinion of tenants before fully going ahead.

Housing in Hounslow