Privatisation, Privatisation or Privatisation?

An article in the Hackney Gazette (4th September) saw the Labour council’s cabinet member for housing in Hackney, claim that tenants will have a choice on the option we prefer for matching the Decent Homes Standard. In response to this article, Hackney IWCA had the lead letter in this week’s Gazette. The Council’s obvious liking for ALMO (Arm’s Length Management Organisations) is something that we have observed for a while now and it is something we will continue to monitor. Islington IWCA are actively opposing ALMO in their borough and here we link to their website’s coverage of the campaign. Below we reprint the full version of our letter in response to Jamie Carswell’s comments.

Jamie Carswell (‘¬£450 million’ – Hackney Gazette – 4.9.03) tells us that we have three options available if we are to meet the Decent Homes standard in Hackney – stock transfer, Private Finance Initiative or ALMO. Because the council already knows how unpopular stock transfer and PFI are with most tenants, our cabinet member for housing paints ALMO in glowing terms but at the same time claims the choice between the three “genuinely isn’t decided”. Does anyone else smell a rat?

What we are being presented with is the “choice” between privatisation, privatisation and‚Ķprivatisation. What choice is that? Can we trust a Labour government who have gone on record as stating that they wish to abolish council housing? And can we trust a Labour council whose record on “consultation” consists of listening to what the community says and then going ahead and doing what they themselves want anyway?

Hackney Labour Party tells us that with ALMO, rights of tenants and council employees will not be affected and it is simply a means of putting in extra money and increasing tenant participation. But if that was the motivation, the Chancellor Gordon Brown could sign the cheques tomorrow and draw-up new laws guaranteeing tenants a bigger say in how their homes are run without setting-up an ALMO.

Once again, Labour offers us a sham consultation in an attempt to sugar the privatisation pill.

Yours
Peter Sutton
Hackney IWCA

For more information on the IWCA’s policies on this issue see www.iwca.info