Consultation costs £36,000
COUNCIL bosses are set to spend more than £36,000 on an exercise to decide the future of its social housing management – despite the fact that things could stay exactly the same.
Stockport Council is asking residents to have their say on how the council’s housing stock should be managed, with the possibility of services being taken back in-house.
A 10-year, £53m contract with arm’s-length body Stockport Homes, to manage and maintain council housing, is due to end in October next year. The deal affects 11,500 properties.
The council says the ‘options appraisal’, where the future of the body is considered, was always planned to go ahead before the end of the deal.
Initially, there were four options – maintaining the arrangement, moving services back to the council, selling-off housing to an existing housing association or transferring stock to a new housing association.
Options have now been whittled down to two – maintaining the status quo or taking management back in-house.
A Freedom of Information request by our sister newspaper the Manchester Evening News revealed the exercise will run-up a bill of £36,019. Solutions Housing Consultancy, appointed to independently advise tenants, will be paid around £21,000.
Stockport Council faces unprecedented budget cuts of £22.5m in 2015/16.
The council says the appraisal was recommended by the government and that bosses were advised to employ an impartial tenant advisor.
A spokeswoman said the appraisal has been ‘fair and transparent’ and the cash had helped reduce options for consideration.
Stockport Council leader Sue Derbyshire added: “Even if we are doing things right, that doesn’t mean we’ve wasted that money.”
Labour group spokeswoman, Coun Sheila Bailey, said: “Despite vicious cuts to our public services, affecting every resident in Stockport and resulting in the loss of over 1,000 local jobs, tax payers’ money is still finding its way into the pockets of consultants.”