YOUR OFFER AT A GLANCE

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					    What would happen to
      tenants’ rights?
                                                                                              YOUR OFFER AT A GLANCE
  Most Council tenants are ‘secure tenants’. With Stafford & Rural Homes you would            Transfer in brief – Page 3
become an ‘Assured Tenant’. Your new tenancy agreement would ensure that your
rights are protected.                                                                         Part A - Page 7
  • You would still be able to buy your home if you are entitled to buy it with the council   Why the Council supports housing transfer
under what is known as the Preserved Right to Buy scheme.
  • You would still be able to pass on your home.
                                                                                              Part B - Page 14
  • Tenants with Stafford & Rural Homes would keep the Right to transfer and                  Repairs and improvements
exchange, the Right to be consulted and the Right to sublet.                                  Part C – Page 21
  • You would get a new assured tenancy agreement from Stafford & Rural Homes –
this could only be changed with your written consent.
                                                                                              Rents and other charges
  SEE SECTION J OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT                                                        Part D – Page 27
                                                                                              About Stafford & Rural Homes
                                                                                              Part E – Page 36
         How can you contact your                                                             The role of tenants
       Independent Tenant Advisor?                                                            Part F – Page 42
  The Tenants Federation has appointed TACT@DOME to give impartial, expert advice to          Housing management services
all tenants.
                                                                                              Part G – Page 48
  SEE SECTION K OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT                                                        Sheltered accommodation and
    Where can I find other useful                                                             Supporting People
           information?                                                                       Part H – Page 53
                                                                                              Leaseholders
  SEE SECTION L OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT
                                                                                              Part I – Page 56
   What does the Council have                                                                 Community investment
          to do now?                                                                          Part J – Page 60
                                                                                              Your rights
 The Council will consider all comments received in response to this consultation
before deciding whether and when to hold a ballot.                                            Part K – Page 66
  SEE SECTION M OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT                                                        TACT@DOME – your independent advisor
   What about the proposed new                                                                Part L – Page 68
                                                                                              Useful information
      tenancy agreement?
                                                                                              Part M - Page 72
  A new tenancy agreement has been produced after detailed consultation with tenants,         What the Council must do now
to ensure that your rights as a tenant would be protected if transfer goes ahead.
 SEE APPENDIX 1                                                                               Appendix 1 – Page 75
                                                                                              The proposed tenancy agreement



 WE’LL BE KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR
 As part of the transfer process members of the Council’s staff will be visiting every tenant in their home in the next few weeks.
  The home visit from Council staff is to ensure that you have received your copy of the Formal Consultation and gives you the
 opportunity to ask any transfer questions you may have face-to-face.
  When you get your home visit – please take a few minutes to talk to the member of staff or request any further information
 you may require. Every member of staff will carry identification, please ask to see it.



INDEPENDENT TENANTS’ ADVISOR
Tenants and leaseholders can get free, impartial information about the Council’s                         01785 619 194
transfer proposal from the Independent Tenants’ Advisor
                    TACT @ DOME Consultants.
  They were selected by tenant representatives to give you free, independent                                       01785 619 194
information during the transfer consultation and up to the ballot. They are
independent of the Council and the new proposed landlord and as well as giving
you information, they will feed back your views about transfer to the Council.                                           01785 619 194

      They can be contacted on Freephone 0800 919 994
 or you can visit their website on www.domeconsultants.co.uk                                                      01785 619 194



  This document can be made available on request in large print or audio cassette. It may take some
   days to transcribe it. If you would like a copy in one of these formats then contact 01785 619 194
                                                                                                                       ISSUE 4 – DEC 2004




AN OPPORTUNITY
OF A LIFETIME
Council leader says Stafford and Rural Homes is the way forward
     What will your home be like in                                                improvements, not
           five years time?
  By using your vote you can choose the way
                                                                                   reductions, in
                                                                                   service. This is only     The transfer
                                                                                                                video
your home will be in five years time. Judith                                      possible if tenants
Dalgarno, Leader of the Council, believes that                                    vote in favour of
this is the most important question to ask when                                   transfer.
you decide about your vote, because this is                                        Tenants have             Shortly you will receive your transfer video
                                                                                 played an important        which will be delivered to your home.
what it is all about.
                                                                                 part in shaping the
  Judith Dalgarno says, “No matter how
                                                                                proposal to ensure           The video is hosted by
complicated these papers seem to be, they are
                                                                                that Stafford & Rural      well known TV presenter
only trying to answer very simple and sensible
                                                     Homes policies reflect tenants’ priorities.           Mark Curry, who was
questions about the future of your home: the
                                                       On the centre pages of this Easy Guide, you         born in Stafford. Mark
condition of your home, the appearance of your
                                                                                                           has been out and about
streets, the way neighbours treat each other, the    can read about how Stafford & Rural Homes
                                                                                                           on estates across the
way your landlord treats you.”                       would address the issues that are important to
                                                                                                           borough talking to
                                                     you. Please take the time to read all the             tenants about their
          Why does the Council
                                                     information so that when the time comes to            homes, communities and
           support transfer?
                                                     vote, you can make an informed choice for the         services.
  “Things cannot stay the same. With the
                                                     future of your home.
Council as your landlord, there will be a lot less                                                           Please set aside
                                                       The decision you will be asked to make is a         around 15 minutes to
money available next year than last and the
                                                     very important one. These changes cannot take         watch the video – it
Council would have to make savings. The
                                                     place unless the majority of tenants who vote,        sums up why the council
popular Estate Based Strategies would be
                                                     are in favour of transfer. Please make sure you       is proposing transfer and
cancelled after March 2005, tenants would no                                                               the promises that
                                                     use your vote.”
longer have the same choice about works in                                                                 Stafford & Rural Homes
their homes, the number of sheltered housing           Transfer is not a foregone conclusion – it can      would make to tenants if
schemes would have to be reduced significantly,      only go ahead if that’s what you, the tenants,        transfer goes ahead.
additional staff redundancies would arise.           decide. Please don’t waste your opportunity
                                                     to have such an important say about the future
 The Council believes that tenants want to see
                                                     of your home – please use your vote.



   A deal for tenants – shaped by tenants
 With this newsletter you will have                             Please take time to read the formal consultation
 received your formal consultation                            document or ‘offer’ document as it is sometimes
 document which sets out the deal you                         called. The document explains how the transfer
 would get with Stafford & Rural Homes,                       proposal would work and what it would mean for
 if transfer goes ahead.                                      tenants and their homes. It also covers important
                                                              issues such as what transfer would mean for rents,
  Tenants have played an important part in shaping the        rights and entitlements, and tenant representation.
 document to ensure that Stafford & Rural Homes                Please make an informed choice – read the document
 policies reflect tenants’ priorities for the future of the   to see what transfer means in real terms – for you and
 homes and housing service.                                   your home.
          Local homes - run by loca
    What improvements are                                                                           What would happen
   possible through transfer?                                                                           to rents?
 Stafford & Rural Homes would invest £68milion in the first                                        Tenants can rest assured that rents would not go
 five years, an additional £40million compared with the                                            shooting up sky high because of transfer.
 £28million which the Council could spend. The improvements                                              Rents would stay affordable and would be broadly
 that would be possible with this money are impressive.                                                   similar to what tenants would pay if the homes
        Double glazed windows and doors for 2,000 homes                                                  stayed with the council.

        2,000 new kitchens                                                                              Tenants would get more for their rent money with
                                                                                                          Stafford & Rural Homes – it would have the money
        920 new bathrooms                                                                                to bring homes, estates and the

        500 full central heating systems
                                                                                                          housing service up to the standards
                                                                                                          you want to see.
        Roofing work to 1,670 homes
                                                                                                         Stafford & Rural Homes would only
        5,000 homes would benefit from fencing, gates or                                                 increase rents once a year, as the
         off road parking                                                                                 Council does now.
   Long term security is also important. Stafford & Rural Homes would have a
 business plan in place for the next 30 years. It would not just raise standards, but
                                                                                                         Stafford & Rural Homes would have a
                                                                                                          firm but fair policy for dealing with rent
 also maintain them for the future. And it would offer a more responsive repairs
                                                                                                          arrears.
 service, with firm appointments, shorter times to complete work (for example
 emergencies dealt with in 3 hours instead of 24 hours), and a handyman service                          Stafford & Rural Homes would continue to have
 to assist older tenants with minor jobs about their home.                                                four weeks when rent is not payable.
                                                                                                    SEE SECTION C OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT


     How can these improvements be paid for?
   Stafford & Rural Homes would charge very similar rents to those the Council          not and it could pay back its loans without having to push up rent levels.
 would charge – they would remain affordable in the future. The 30-year plan is           Here you can compare the investment Stafford & Rural Homes would make in
 based on this commitment. Because it would be a Registered Social Landlord,            the first five years with what the Council would be able to carry out.
 Stafford & Rural Homes would be free to borrow in a way that the Council could
                                                                                          SEE SECTION B OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT
    Works to be undertaken                                         By the Council                                     By Stafford and Rural Homes
    in the first 2 years                              Budget                            Number                       Budget                        Number
    Heating                                           £400,000                                                       £1million
    Works to be undertaken                                           By the Council                                  By Stafford and Rural Homes
    in the first 3 years                              Budget                     Number                              Budget                Number
    Windows and doors                                 £2.3 million                      900                          £6 million                    2,000
    New kitchens                                      £1.5 million                      750                          £5 million                    2,000
    New bathrooms                                     £200,000                          220                          £2 million                    920
    Works to be undertaken                                   By the Council                                           By Stafford and Rural Homes
    in the first 5 years                              Budget              Number                                     Budget                 Number
    Refurbishment of sheltered housing                £2 million                                                     £10 million                   20
    Off street parking                                0                                                              £2 million
    Fencing and gates                                 0                                 None                         £3 million                    5,000
    Driveways and footpaths                           0                                                              £2 million
    Roofing                                           £2 million                        650                          £5 million                    1,670
    Insulation and energy efficiency                  £100,000                                                       £1 million



                                Who would control Stafford & Rural Homes?
  Stafford & Rural Homes would be a new Registered Social Landlord, independent           Every tenant would have the choice to become a member, with the right to vote
of the Council and it would not be part of any other Registered Social Landlord (or     at general meetings on all fundamental decisions about the way Stafford & Rural
housing association). It would be locally based and controlled by its members.          Homes would be run.
  This control is divided into three shares – for tenants, Council nominees and           The Government would regulate Stafford & Rural Homes through the Housing
independent people. Five people from each group would make up the Management            Corporation. The Council would have a legally binding agreement to ensure that
Board, which would be responsible for everything the organisation does. This            Stafford & Rural Homes keeps all its promises to tenants.
"Shadow" Management Board is already in place, led by its chairman Jack Kemp              SEE SECTION D OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT
and ready to take charge instead of the Council if tenants vote in favour.
al people - for local people
       What would be the role
            of tenants?
   The Shadow Board believes that tenants can make a huge contribution to
 all aspects of housing management in Stafford & Rural Homes. The Tenants
 Federation has encouraged the development of many tenant groups to
 ensure there are experienced tenants in every area to represent your views
 and take an active part in the new organisation. Stafford & Rural Homes
 would provide resources, including an office, meeting facilities and office
 equipment, for the Tenants Federation and other groups that are part of the
 Federation to operate effectively and independently on behalf of all
 tenants. Stafford & Rural Homes would include tenant representatives in
 reviews of all services. This would mean that tenant views would influence
 policies and ways of working.
  SEE SECTION E OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT


    How would services
   change after transfer?
    Staff working for the Council in repairs, housing management or sheltered
 housing would be employed by Stafford & Rural Homes on the same terms
 and conditions. Their unions have already said they support transfer, because
 it offers more security and better prospects for employees.
    This means that tenants would see the same people providing similar
 services in the same way as before. Many of the more popular initiatives,
 such as work to reduce anti social behaviour, or Estate Based Strategies,
 would continue and be protected.
    But managers would work with tenants to question the way services
 presently operate and to find improvements that tenant support. The
 Shadow Board and the Tenants Federation have stated their ambition for
                                                                                   60 second summary
                                                                                    At the beginning of each section of the offer
 better customer care and they want decisions to be made by staff in a way
 that tenants find fair and reasonable.                                             document you will find a box which summarises
                                                                                    all the points in that section.
  SEE SECTION F OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT


   How would transfer affect                                                                  What about
     sheltered housing?                                                                      leaseholders?
   Stafford & Rural Home would invest an additional £10 million to make            The freehold interest would transfer to Stafford & Rural Homes, but the terms of each
 striking improvements to its sheltered housing schemes and introduce            lease would not otherwise be altered.
 better standards of support for residents. The Council has already worked         SEE SECTION H OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT
 with the Sheltered Housing Tenants Alliance to question the way services
 work and to question the suitability of sheltered schemes for older tenants.           What difference would
 But the Council does not have resources to put their ideas into effect.
   Older tenants deserve opportunities to live healthy, independent life                transfer make for the
 styles, and to have more control over the quality of their lives. That is why
 the Sheltered Housing Tenants Alliance would have a special part to play in              wider community?
 Stafford & Rural Homes plans for the future, placing sheltered housing
 residents in greater control for all aspects of services.                       Stafford & Rural Homes would make a real difference to the Borough. Its £68million
                                                                                 housing investment would of course be a boost to the local economy, it should enable
                                                                                 the creation of new jobs and Stafford & Rural Homes would introduce apprenticeships
     Would vulnerable tenants be                                                 and other training to help deal with some part of the skills shortage in the
                                                                                 construction industry. As a family friendly employer, it would not just offer jobs for the
      supported after transfer?                                                  boys, but also employ or retain people who must balance work with their role as carer
                                                                                 for children or other family members.
   Stafford & Rural Homes would have a range of policies to support
                                                                                 Stafford & Rural Homes would want to play a part in protecting rural communities,
 vulnerable tenants in all its properties, not just in sheltered housing. For
                                                                                 working where possible with parish councils. It would also support a credit union to
 people with disabilities, there would be an extra £4 1/2 m over ten years, to
                                                                                 benefit all employees and tenants with access to affordable loans and savings
 provide more adaptations such as ramps, walk-in showers, handrails or
                                                                                 schemes, helping to undermine the presence in the Borough of loan sharks and
 adapted kitchens. A handyman service provided by Stafford & Rural
                                                                                 people charging too much for credit to people who cannot find an alternative.
 Homes, and funding to Age Concern to support their gardening help
 scheme, are also promised. Stafford & Rural Homes would work closely             SEE SECTION I OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT
 with Social Services and other agencies to maintain and improve services
 to support tenants needing special help.
  SEE SECTION G OF YOUR OFFER DOCUMENT                                                      Continued on back page ➔

				
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