Council Housing Review

South Tyneside Council's Cabinet has taken a 'minded to' decision to bring council housing services back in-house, pending consultation with tenants. The consultation opens on Tuesday 30 January.

At a meeting on 13 December 2023 South Tyneside Council's cabinet made the 'minded to' decision to consult on plans that could see the biggest changes to council housing in South Tyneside for almost two decades.

The changes, which are subject to consultation with all council housing tenants and leaseholders, would see the management of South Tyneside Council's housing stock brought back 'in-house'.

All services currently delivered by South Tyneside Homes on behalf of the council, and the people who deliver them, would become part of the council and the delivery of housing and related services would return to being under direct council control for the first time since 2006.

The 'minded to' decision is subject to an independent ballot of tenants and leaseholders, which began on Tuesday 30 January 2024. A final cabinet decision is expected after the consultation process ends on Thursday 7 March 2024.

The move follows an independent review of council housing undertaken in Autumn 2023, in anticipation of revised regulatory and legislative requirements, and to ensure the best outcomes for residents.

To view the review report, see South Tyneside Council Strategic Housing Review.


Background

South Tyneside Homes was set up as an Arms-Length Management Organisation (ALMO) in 2006 to access government funding to improve homes.

It currently manages council homes and delivers housing and some other services on behalf of South Tyneside Council. 

Changing regulations, financial challenges in the social housing sector and increasing demand for council houses means that the way housing services are delivered needs to change in order to meet residents needs both now and in the future. 

The council has always owned all council homes in the borough, and this won't change with any housing transfer.

The decision by South Tyneside Council's cabinet, means that all services delivered on behalf of the council by South Tyneside Homes would be managed and delivered directly by the council instead.

This is subject to an independent ballot of all tenants and leaseholders, which began on Tuesday 30 January 2024.


What did the independent review find?

The independent review was carried out by consultants Campbell Tickell, who investigated four different options for the future delivery of housing services.

The review recommended bringing the services back under direct council management, with an integrated leadership structure as an interim measure.

To view the review report, see South Tyneside Council Strategic Housing Review.


What happens next?

We really want you to help us shape the future of housing services in South Tyneside. You can do this by voting online or by completing a postal ballot.

The ballot pack was sent to tenants and leaseholders on Tuesday 30 January 2024. This contains a letter, information about the proposals and a ballot paper. 

If you haven't received your ballot, please get in touch by calling 0345 209 3770 or emailing southtynesidecc@uk-engage.org.

Vote online

You will need your ballot paper to vote online, as this contains a unique security code (USC) for the voting website.

UK eVote: Council Housing Review

Once the council has been able to review all the responses, you will be contacted about the next steps.


Benefits of bringing South Tyneside Homes back in-house

  • Meeting the needs of residents more effectively. Bringing housing services together will help put people at the heart of what we do. This will help us to deliver a more people focussed approach, make it easier for all council services to work together and improve our housing services.
  • Better communication between tenants, leaseholders, and the council. It will be easier for us to understand and react to the needs of our tenants and leaseholders if we have a direct relationship with them. 
  • Increased accountability. Bringing all our housing services together will make it easier for us to do things to improve tenants' satisfaction as everyone who delivers our housing services will report to senior council managers and councillors. 
  • Better use and delivery of resources for tenants. Bringing all housing services together means we can make better use of resources and provide even better services to make sure that our homes remain decent and safe for people to live in.

CAF meetings

If you want to find out more information, you can attend one of our CAF meetings, where an Officer will be attending and able to answer any queries.

Dates, times, and locations

19 Feb: Hebburn CAF, 10am at Hebburn Central, Glen Street, Hebburn

29 Feb: West Shields, CEB CAF, 10am at All Saints CIO

5 March: Riverside CAF, 10am South Shields Town Hall


Frequently asked questions

Why is the council looking to make these changes?

Housing is a key priority for the council.

We want to make sure that homes and housing services we provide will meet the needs of our residents now and in the future.

Bringing all our housing services together will provide an opportunity to build on what has been achieved so far to provide even better services.

The review has given the opportunity to evaluate council housing services and identify improvements that will make a difference to tenants.

Housing is about far more than bricks and mortar, it's a gateway to many other services and it's crucial that a holistic approach is adopted to provide more effective prevention, intervention, and support for residents.

When would the changes happen?

Consultation on the proposed changes will take place through an independent ballot of tenants and leaseholders.

Ballot papers were sent out on Tuesday 30 January 2024 and a final cabinet decision is expected after the consultation process ends on Thursday 7 March 2024.

The findings of that consultation will be presented to a future meeting of South Tyneside Council's cabinet where it will be asked to make a final decision. Following that work would then start to implement any changes.

In the meantime the council and South Tyneside Homes will be working closely and collaboratively to ensure that any transfer would be smooth and seamless.

Will the council stop delivering some housing services?

There are no plans to stop delivering any housing services because of these proposals.

Where there was any duplication, we would look to combine services to reduce duplication. 

Will there be any changes to my tenancy agreement?

No, the changes won't affect your tenancy agreement.

The council has always owned all council homes in South Tyneside and have always been your landlord.

You will be able to talk to the council directly now instead of going through South Tyneside Homes and the council will deliver your services. 

Would my lease stay the same?

There won't be any changes to your lease due to these changes.

You will still own the lease to your home and the council will still own the freehold. 

Would my rent go up?

Council rents are reviewed every year and aren't part of this process. Your rent won't change because of these changes. 

I live in supported accommodation. Will my services change?

If you live in a council housing plus scheme, assisted living development or other type of supported housing you will still receive the services you need but they would be delivered by the council instead of South Tyneside Homes.

Do I still use the same telephone number or email address if I have an issue?

Yes, you can still contact us in the same way as you do now.

At this stage in the process, it is very much 'business as usual'.

There may be some changes in the future, but we will let you know about these if they happen.

Will the way I request a repair change?

No, you'll still be able to contact South Tyneside Homes in the same ways that you do now to request a repair.

If for any reason, anything needs to change, we'll let you know about the changes and what it means for you. 

Will I have to wait longer for a repair?

South Tyneside Homes has service standards that need to be met for how long it takes to complete repairs. These standards continue to be in place.

How will you tell tenants and leaseholders if anything changes?

We will update this webpage regularly during the consultation process. We will also share information about any changes on our social media channels. 

If there are changes that will affect individual tenants or leaseholders, we will contact people directly to let them know. 

How much will it cost to bring South Tyneside Homes into the council?

Final costs are yet to being finalised. Any cost will be offset by anticipated savings.

What will any money saved be spent on?

Any savings will benefit the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and will be retained and re-invested for the benefit of tenants. 

When will I recieve my ballot paper?

The ballot pack was sent to tenants and leaseholders on Tuesday 30 January 2024. This contains a letter, information about the proposals and a ballot paper. 

Residents should recieve their packs in the coming days.

If you haven't received your ballot, please get in touch by calling 0345 209 3770 or emailing southtynesidecc@uk-engage.org.

You will need your ballot paper to vote online, this contains a unique security code (USC) to access the voting website.