Arms Length Management Organisation for Council Housing

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2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
17 February 2003

This Conference notes with alarm the speed at which Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) have been pushed through by central Government. John Prescott’s office has been pushing ahead with ALMOs despite the fact that:

1)Financially, start up costs have been massive

2)They have expanded the amount of highly paid Managers while effects on employment contracts and job cuts for front line workers have been detrimental, and

3)They have had an adverse effect on tenant participation

We still firmly believe that the purpose of introducing ALMOs is to break up any democratically controlled housing services and therefore make it easier to go to the next stage of privatisation. Since the No vote on stock transfers in Birmingham in 2002, the Government has been using ALMOs to pressurise tenants into accepting that this is the only other way to get hold of Government money to allow for investment and modernisation.

We welcome the recent collaboration between Defend Council Housing, UNISON and other public sector unions in organising the highly successful lobby of parliament and rally in Central Hall Westminster on 29 January 2003 over the issue of privatisation of housing. We believe that these and other national organised events should be built on. The impressive list of supporters throughout the trade union movement, tenants movement and now Councillors and MPs is growing. We now need to sharpen and expand the campaign based on the successes we have been so far.

Whilst the UNISON guidelines on ALMOs are a useful tool, particularly where our members are in the negotiation stage of ALMOs , we believe that we need to produce more detailed material/s for members to use at the start of any campaigns. The guidelines as they stand are too defensive and are geared to dealing with ALMOs authority by authority, rather than encouraging the widening of our campaigns.

We therefore call on National UNISON to:

a)Produce, as soon as possible, an attachment to the guidelines that gives us necessary campaigning details, such as:

i)what have been the start up costs and executive salaries

ii)examples of detrimental effects on tenants participation in decisions/democratic control, effects of costs on services

iii)instances of collaboration with tenants, lists of organisations/branches that have has successful campaigns etc

b)Support the calling for and organisation of a conference in the autumn of 2003 in collaboration with Defend Council Housing and the other public sector unions who have been involved with the campaigns so far.