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Tenants will decide homes future

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					Your Home, Your Say
September 2009
Information about the future of your home

For Tenants to decide whether transfer goes ahead in a ballot, it is important that you
have all the information you need to make an informed choice.                                                                    In this issue….
This is the first in a series of a new look “Your Home, Your Say” newsletters you will                                           Page 2   Why the council is proposing
                                                                                                                                          to transfer homes
receive in the coming months to tell you more about the Council’s transfer proposal.
Please read this information carefully.                                                                                          Page 3   Answers to some popular
                                                                                                                                          questions being raised


Tenants will decide homes future                                                                                                 Page 4   How YOU can become more
                                                                                                                                          involved in the process

A multi-million pound investment could be                       As part of the proposal, Tristar Homes would be                  Page 4   Details on how you can
made in the Borough’s Council homes - if                        changed from an Arm’s Length Management                                   become a board member of
                                                                Organisation into a not-for-profit housing                                the proposed new
tenants vote for change.                                                                                                                  organisation
                                                                association, registered with the Tenant Services
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council has agreed to                  Authority as a provider of social housing. It would
give tenants the opportunity to consider the                    own the homes, as well as manage them.
proposal to transfer the ownership of its 10,500
                                                         The decision by the Cabinet (the Council’s decision
homes to a new-style Tristar Homes
                                                         making body) to make this proposal was taken
The Council believes that the proposed change            following detailed consultation which included
would unlock funds for the improvement of                considerable tenant involvement. Council
homes across the Borough.                                           representatives and tenants
                                                                    representatives from the Housing
                                        rds
 Giving Tenants the Standa
                                                                    Futures Customer Group (our tenants’
                                                                     consultation group) have been
 they want to        see                                             working together as a Joint Reference
                               ncillor   Steve
 A message from Cou
                                                                     Group to look at what kind of
                                                                     organisation would own and manage
  Nelson                                                              the homes in the future if the transfer
                                ays worked hard to
  “Ove r the years, we have alw                    quality            went ahead.
                              mes and provide good
  repair and improve yo
  services. That’s
                              ur ho
                      why, in 2002, we set up
                                                     an Arm’s Length
                                                      star Homes, to manag
                                                                                e      The Cabinet has also agreed that          The key benefits
  Management Orga          nisation, known as Tri                   own your           under the proposal the new-style
   the hous    ing service, while the
                                           Council continued to
                                                                                       Tristar Homes would form a new            of transfer:
   homes.                                                                  ey          housing group with another local
                                                 re able to access mon
   “By setting up     Tristar Homes, we we                      to the Council.         housing association - Housing            • Repair and improvement
                                      t have been available
    wh   ich otherwise would no                                received has             Hartlepool. Working together as part
                                     ing which the Council                                                                         of homes to a higher
    “H  owever, this extra fund                           Council ha  s had to          of a group would provide the
                               as your landlord, the                                                                               standard
    come to an end and,                                    the quality of our           opportunity for both organisations
                                    tains and improves
    think about how it main                                                             to increase their capacity to deliver
    homes in the future.                                                                                                         • Affordable rents.
                                                               does not have             what their tenants really need by
                                  ment rules, the Council
     “Under current Govern                          borrow all the money                 sharing their expertise and             • More say in how your
                                  nnot afford to
     enough money and ca                                           tenants in the
                                    up   to the standard which                           experience.                               homes are run
     needed to bring homes                  r, should Tristar Homes
                                                                       become a
                                  Howeve
     Borough want to see.                               the money needed to              Over the coming months the
          using associatio   n, it could borrow all                       Should                                                 • Key rights and
      ho                                                      fordable.                   Council will be running a major
                                   tates and keep rents af
      improve homes and es                                   r Homes would                                                         entitlements protected
                                  fer of housing to Trista                                consultation exercise to make sure
      this happen, the trans                     ich are not available to
                                                                             the
                                  ovement wh                                              tenants have all the facts about
       unlock funds for impr                                                                                                     • More funding to Improve
       Council.
                                                                                          what transfer would mean if the
                                    at every penny of yo    ur rent would be              new-style Tristar Homes became           services
       ‘It would also mean th                   the housing service yo
                                                                          u receive.
                                     mes and                                               your new landlord. The Council will
       ploughed back in to ho                                ly rent has to be                                                   • More funding to Improve
                                  of every tenant’s week                                   be working in partnership with
       At the moment, part                       subsidise housing in ot
                                                                             her parts
        passed to   central Government to                                                  tenants to draw up a formal “Offer      local communities
                                                     d, this would stop.
        of the country  . If transfer went ahea                                            Document”, which will contain all
                                                            tenants. We believe                                                  • New Homes built
        “The Council wants       to see what’s best for                    ff.              the details about the proposed
                                                nants and good for sta
        that this  proposal is good for te                       in favour of th e          transfer.
                                        ahead if tenants vote
         However, it can only go
         proposal next year. I as
                                      k that you read all the
                                       ths so that you
                                                                 mat erial we send
                                                         can make an informed
                                                                                            Remember, transfer is not a
                                                                                             foregone conclusion. It can only
                                                                                                                                  Any Questions?
         you in the coming mon                         your say.”
                        the time comes to have
          choice when                                                                        go ahead if the majority of
                                                                                    tenants who vote in a ballot,                      Freephone
                                                                                    planned for next year, are in
                                                                                        favour.
                                                                                                                                   0800 432 0891
Produced by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council & Tristar Homes
A new housing organisation for Stockton Borough
The ownership and management of the               • Be based locally in the Borough of Stockton.
Council’s homes would transfer to a               • Be run by the same familiar faces.
new-style Tristar Homes which would
                                                  • Be run on a not-for-profit basis
give the tenants of Stockton,
Billingham, Thornaby and other parts              • Ensure all the money from your rent would
                                                    be spent in the Borough, not elsewhere.
of the Borough a landlord that would :
                                                  • Be managed by a board made up of local
• Own and manage all the Council’s homes
                                                    tenants, council nominees and
  and provide a housing service for people in
                                                    independent local people
  the Borough of Stockton.
                                                  • Be able to borrow the money needed
• Only manage homes in the Borough of
  Stockton.                                       • Be part of a brand new housing group in
                                                    partnership with Housing Hartlepool


Why form a new group with Housing Hartlepool?
Housing Hartlepool is a not-for-profit            Here is why Housing Hartlepool was chosen
                                                                                                   Transfer - a
charitable housing association and was            to set up a new housing group with Tristar
set up in March 2004 following the
transfer of homes from Hartlepool
                                                  Homes:
                                                  • Housing Hartlepool has delivered the
                                                                                                   reminder
Borough Council. It owns and manages                promises it made to tenants before transfer
                                                                                                   An independent survey has shown that,
around 7,000 homes, in Hartlepool and               and has continued to improve services
                                                                                                   over the next 30 years, the Council’s
the surrounding villages. It is currently         • Housing Hartlepool has a very good record      homes need around £600million of
building more than 200 new homes with               in building new homes and in regeneration
                                                                                                   repairs and improvements to bring
plans for a further 300 by 2011. Acting             within the wider community
                                                                                                   them up to, and maintain them at, the
on behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council           • Working together as a housing group            modern standard you have a right to
and Hartlepool New Deal For                         could make the management and
Communities they are also overseeing
                                                                                                   expect.
                                                    maintenance of homes more efficient by
the frontline delivery of the regeneration          sharing costs.                                 The Council does not have, and will not be
and renewal of some older parts of the                                                             able to get, enough money to bring homes up
town.                                                                                              to the standard you expect and also carry out
                                                                                                   other improvements to your homes and
                                                                                                   neighbourhoods that you have told us are


Keeping you informed
                                                                                                   important to you in recent surveys.

                                                                                                   There are a number of reasons why we do not
                                                                                                   have enough money.
The Council wants to make sure that                 opportunity to tell us what you want from
                                                    transfer.                                      1) Under current rules the Council has to pay a
every tenant is fully consulted on
                                                                                                      percentage of the rent we collect to the
transfer and by law has a duty to                 • Tenants will receive a formal consultation        Government. The rent the Council keeps is
consult with tenants on any proposed                document before the ballot. It will contain       not sufficient to cover the full cost of
changes to their housing service and                all the information you need about transfer       running the housing service and paying for
keep everyone up-to-date at every                   on issues such as rents, rights and               the home improvements you have said you
stage of the transfer consultation                  entitlements and the housing service. It is       want.
                                                    important that when you receive this
process.                                                                                           2) The Government limits the amount of
                                                    document next year, you take time to read
The Council will make sure that every tenant        it carefully.                                     money it makes available to local housing
has received all the information they need to                                                         authorities. Tristar Homes, as the
                                                  • Once you have read the document you will          organisation that currently manages homes
make an informed decision in the ballot
                                                    have the opportunity to tell the Council          for the Council as an Arm’s Length
planned for next year.
                                                    what you think about the proposal. Your           Management Organisation (ALMO), is
• This is the first in a series of newsletters      views will be taken on board and                  funded by the Council, so the amount of
  you will receive in the run-up to the ballot.     considered by the Council, which could            money it receives is limited in the same
  Each issue will help explain how transfer         result in changes to the original proposal        way.
  works and what it would mean for tenants          to reflect what you want for the future of
  and their homes, if it goes ahead. Over the       your home and housing service.                 3) Current rules mean that the Council cannot
  coming months you will have the                                                                     afford to borrow the money needed.




2
Check the facts                                 contains inaccuracies or misinformation, we         Services Authority (the Government agency
We recognise that people will have
different views about the transfer              will correct them.                                  responsible for registration and regulation of
proposal. During the consultation, it is                                                            housing associations) checks all information
                                                If you receive any literature on transfer that is
                                                                                                    relating to compliance with its registration
possible that people who are opposed            not from ourselves or your Independent
                                                                                                    and regulatory requirements. Literature from
to transfer may publish their own               Tenants’ Adviser, Engage Associates, please
                                                                                                    other groups and individuals does not have to
literature about transfer.                      check the facts for yourself.
                                                                                                    undergo any such checks.
Whilst we respect everyone’s right to their     All the information we send to you has to
                                                                                                    Remember you can ring the Council’s
own opinion, the Council has a legal duty to    undergo a rigorous set of checks by the
                                                                                                    freephone line on 0800 432 0891 or you can
ensure its tenants have the facts about the     Government, specialist lawyers and your
                                                                                                    ring Engage Associates, your Independent
proposal. If any literature is sent out which   Independent Tenants’ Adviser. The Tenant
                                                                                                    Tenants’ Adviser, on 01845 537145.




Transfer Letters with the
Housing Futures Team
Transfer Letters is your opportunity to         Q: Would I have to move home if
put the Council on the spot. Contact            transfer goes ahead?
the Housing Futures Team and they will
                                                A: No, you would not have to move
answer any questions in the next issue.
                                                home. Only the ownership and
Here are some questions already being
                                                management of the Council’s homes
asked by tenants in the Borough.
                                                would transfer to the new-style Tristar
                                                Homes.
Q: What does transfer mean?                                                                                   The Housing Futures team -
                                                                                                         Standing: Jane Edmends, Chris Davey.
A: It is the transfer of the ownership          Q: Who will decide if transfer goes                         Seated: Ann Pursey, Kelly Forrest
and management of all the Council’s             ahead?
homes to a not-for-profit housing                                                                   Q: Would I still get Housing Benefit?
                                                A: You will. If the majority of tenants,
organisation. Tristar Homes would
                                                who vote in the ballot, vote “yes” – all            A: Your entitlement to claim Housing
become a housing association which
                                                of the Council’s homes would transfer               Benefit would not be affected by
means it would own and manage
                                                to the new-style Tristar Homes. If there            transfer to the new-style Tristar Homes.
homes, and be run on a “not-for-
                                                is a “no” vote – all of the Council’s               Housing Benefit could be paid directly
profit” basis.
                                                homes would stay with the Council.                  to your landlord who will pay it into
                                                                                                    your rent account.
Q: Who would run this organisation?
                                                Q: Would rents stay affordable?
A: It would be run by a board, made                                                                 Any more questions?
                                                A: Current Government policy on social
up of local tenants, Councillors and
                                                housing rents, which applies to both                A “pocket guide” has been produced
independent people. In the early stages
                                                councils and housing associations (like             which provides more detailed answers
leading up to the ballot the board
                                                the new-style Tristar Homes) means                  to many of the
would be set up but it would operate
                                                that in the future you would pay a                  questions that
in “shadow” form only. It would not
                                                similar rent for your home whether you              are being
become a full working board unless
                                                rent from the Council or a not-for-                 asked, and is
tenants voted for the transfer to go                                                                                  Housing Futures
                                                profit housing association. The key                 available from
ahead. Shadow board members will                                                                                      Your Pocket
                                                difference is that tenants would get                a number of
be recruited shortly and details of how                                                                               Guide
                                                more for their money with the new-                  Council and
tenants can be considered for a place
                                                style Tristar Homes because, unlike the             Tristar Homes
on the shadow board can be found on
                                                Council under current Government                    customer
page 4 of this newsletter.
                                                rules, Tristar Homes would be able to               access points
                                                keep all of its rental income to help               throughout
                                                bring homes up to the standard                      the Borough.
                                                tenants want to see.
                                                                                                                                                 3
A phone call for                                  Your Independent Tenant Adviser (ITA)
your views                                        When work on our Options Appraisal began in 2007, The Housing Futures Customer Group
                                                  (our tenant and leaseholder consultation group) appointed an Independent Tenants’ Adviser
                                                  (ITA) - Engage Associates. Engage have provided independent information, advice and support
Some tenants may receive a call in the            to tenants and leaseholders throughout the Options Appraisal and will now continue to do so
next few weeks from researchers asking            as information is prepared to help you decide on the transfer proposal
about the Council’s transfer
consultation.                                     Your Independent Tenants Advisers are:
They will be seeking tenants’ views about the
proposal and asking what they would like to
see included in the transfer plans.

The information will be used to help form the
Council’s formal offer to tenants ahead of the
ballot.

Please take the time to speak to the
                                                                Eileen Adams                                      Neil O’Brien
researcher if you receive a call from them.
                                                  Over the coming months Eileen and Neil will be working with tenants and leaseholders,

Transfer Facts                                    providing support to the Housing Futures Customer Group and attending tenant/resident
                                                  group meetings across the Borough to give advice and general information on the transfer
                                                  proposal.
Fact …..                                          You can contact Eileen or Neil at Engage by telephone on 01845 537145, or by e-mail via
Transfer is not a foregone conclusion.            info@engage3.org
Only tenants can decide on whether it
goes ahead in secret ballot. Every secure
and introductory tenant will receive a            How do I put my name forward to
ballot paper.

Fact …..
                                                  become a Shadow Board member?
                                                  The new-style Tristar Homes would be            If you would like more information about
Tenants’ key rights and entitlements              run by a board of 12 people - four              becoming a shadow board member or an
would be protected if transfer goes               tenants / leaseholders, four Council            application pack, please contact the
ahead.                                            nominees and four independent                   Housing Futures team on freephone 0800
                                                  people. In the early stages leading up          432 0891.
Fact …..                                          to the ballot the board would operate
                                                                                                  We will also be holding a shadow board
                                                  in “shadow” form only, but would
More than 280 transfers have taken                                                                member information event which will be
                                                  become a full Board if tenants vote in
place around the country since the first                                                          held between 1:30-4pm on Wednesday
                                                  favour of transfer, making decisions
in 1988. This has involved more than                                                              14th October at Stockton Town Hall Council
                                                  about the policy and direction of the
one million homes and brought in                                                                  Chambers. At this event, application packs
                                                  organisation.
                                                                                                  and further information about the role of a
more than £14 billion for repairs and
                                                  The Housing Futures Customer Group have         shadow board member will be available.
modernisation. Locally transfer has
                                                  agreed that the appointment of tenant and       Assistance and support in completing
taken place in Middlesbrough,
                                                  leaseholder board members be through an         application forms will also be given.
Hartlepool, Sunderland, Redcar and
                                                  application and interview process, with
Cleveland, Sedgefield, Chester-le-
                                                  shadow board members being selected by a
Street, Derwentside, and Hambleton.               panel for their skills and experience.




Want to know more or want to get involved?
For more information on transfer, the Housing Futures                     Engage Associates - Your Independent Tenants Adviser:
Customer group or how to get more involved, please                        Phone: 01845 537145
contact either                                                            E-Mail: info@engage3.org
Stockton Borough Council – Housing Futures Team:                          Your Home Your Say information webpages:
Freephone 0800 432 0891                                                   http://www.stockton.gov.uk/yourhomeyoursay
E-Mail: housing.futures@stockton.gov.uk                                   OR follow the links on the homepage of the Stockton Borough Council
Tristar Homes Limited - Customer Involvement Team:                        website
Phone: 0844 736 0007
E-Mail: resident.involvement@tristarhomes.co.uk
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Description: Tenants will decide homes future