About this blog

Ramblings, thoughts, facts and opinions about political things - starting point council tenant participation with my land-lord Camden council and council tenant reps plus other housing issues, and whatever.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Tenants Right To Manage

Back in April 2011 the then Conservative  housing minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) introduced a new tenant housing management scheme called the Tenant Cash Back Scheme. This is part of the broader Community Cashback scheme. Click  HERE to read what the housing minister had to say about the scheme (April 2011).

The scheme is about tenants taking on small scale housing repairs and maintenance services from their landlord.

In July 2013 we hear that the first tenant cash back scheme has been started in Camden by the Russell Chambers Residents Association HERE
" Camden Council has agreed to pay the group what it would normally cost to run this part of the service and has signed a Cashback Agreement with the group to formalise the delivery of the service in the longer term."

Council tenants legal Right to Manage stems from section 27 of the Housing Act 1985 HERE.  

The Housing (Right to Manage) Regulations 1994 HERE prescribed how tenants where to legally go about taking on housing management functions. The regulations where amended in 2008 HERE and 2012 HERE

In June 2011 the Camden Association of Street Properties (CASP)  and the council colluder's entered into an housing management agreement to provide, not an existing service, but a new service for targeted tenants who live in council street properties. Click HERE for casp write up on the gardening project.

Why no above board and open management agreement with CASP or indeed the DMC's who CASP get money from to carry out the gardening maintenance service? Some dmc members also run community halls based on/near the estate they live in. They are for use of all the community but are paid for from the housing revenue account.
According to Camden councils website HERE there are 6 TMO groups in Camden
  • Abbey Road housing co-op
  • Agar Grove Tenant Management co-op limited
  • Chalk Farm housing group
  • Carol street housing co-op
  • Godwin and Crowndale housing co-op
  • St Pancras Court housing co-op
who have taken on housing management functions - the right way - but the dmc's and casp are let away with doing things in an underhanded and not very transparent way. They could only do so with the councils say so, so who exactly keeps allowing them to do so?

A few years back  I asked Camden council via the FoI Act what legal powers/legislation they where using to fund the 5 dmc's - or words to that effect and I was informed that it was the wel-being powers within Local Government Act 2000 HERE. 

I also asked

" Dear Camden Borough Council,
Please provide me with the following information:


1. A copy of the initial and subsequently updated agreement/s the
council entered into with the five district management committee's
(dmc's) - Holborn, Camden Town, Kentish Town, Gospel Oak and
Hampstead - that enables dmc members to allocate large sums of
public funding to council tenant groups in Camden.


2. The legal status of the 5 dmc's " 

To which I was sent information I didn't ask for. 

After another try I was informed
"with hindsight, the HASC might have advised you that there are quarterly reports that touch up the monitoring and accounting aspects of the DMC's". 

Ah, so the council does have a 'management agreement' of sorts  with the dmcs. But isn't it supposed to legal ie written down as per Regulations and be available on request for other tenants to see?

Must be like the other we -don't- have- an- agreement with the fake RDCP some dmc members over in Gospel Oak set themselves up as whilst tramping all over other residents not in their gang.

I have since found out that the accounting aspects in the dmcs agreement amounts to dmc members not having to produce annual accounts for even their own members let alone other tenants to see, and not having to give the council the accounts either.

Another FoI request informs
"The DMC's have access to funds but they are not entitled to spend them directly. Instead the DMC's make recommendations on how the money that has been allocated to them should be spent. The decision making in terms of spending the money is then taken by Council Officers"

Update 25 Feb 2016 
In regards to the above quote, dmc members do get sent cheques to spend on some works/goods/services as stated in some officers reports (not at hand right now)
and some housing staff do pass some dodgy bids onto the dmc's such as the CASP bid for a tv monitor costing 10,000. The bids go to council staff first as far as I am aware.

I suspect there has been and continues to be a 'battle' between some senior housing people in regards to the dmc's and how they have been allowed to break the rules, often with senior housing staff agreement. Some senior housing staff appear way to close to dodgy tenant reps who will try and succeed in corrupting ( maybe it doesn't take much effort) some staff into doing things their way. Whether cllrs are also involved I don't know, I suspect some are.

Tenants don't have to go through the dmcs to access works etc and can ask the housing ward manager. However some managers will lie to you in order to fob you off as I have experienced so will put up obstacles and try and push you onto the dmc's. The dmc's seem to have much support from cllrs.

I have yet to see any evidence that an actual written contract/agreement exists between the council and the dmc's in regards to them being allowed to allocate council funds - to themselves.  Seeing as the dmc chairs and vice chairs legal status is somewhat hazy in law but seem to me to be more council contractors than anything else who apparently have duties and are paid more than out of pocket expenses. Not strictly volunteers. Not strictly council employees.

Also the amount of time council employees appear to spend on assisting dmc members in the dmcs consultation role and their management function role is rarely accounted for when talking about the overall costs of the 5 dmcs. 

The council cutting services all around, yet the dmc's still remain largely untouched - the councils logic being that dmcs don't spend all their allocated funds in a year so the cut to them will not actually be a cut in what they spend but to lower the amount they get to what they do spend in a year (from past years) - but take no account of council staff time in assisting the dmcs.

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