If as Gottfried Leibnitz postulated, we lived in the “best of all possible worlds” there would be no need for the Right to Transfer (RTT). In this ideal world, the reasonable hopes and ambitions of tenants would be nurtured by enlightened local authority councillors and officers.
In some cases this happens for the mutual benefit of all partners and a number of tenant led stock (TLST) transfers, for example WATMOS in both Walsall and Lambeth, Beechwood Ballantyne in the Wirral and North Bransholme in Hull have proceeded with the support of the local authority. Admittedly this has happened with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but it shows that TLST is perfectly viable.
Sadly, not all local authorities believe in tenant empowerment, some tolerate tenant management only because the Right to Manage forces them to. Some local authority administrations have an ideological objection to stock transfer in any form, often a dogmatic position that refuses to see any nuance.
There are councils are politically opposed because they consider stock transfer as privatisation, without understanding that not all stock transfers are the same. In some cases the analysis is even less sophisticated than this and it is nothing more than paternalism, the attitude that “they are our houses and we know best”.
Tenant Led Stock Options Appraisals
2004 Government initiated Tenant Led Stock Options appraisals, five Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) were grant funded by DCLG to carry this out. The local authorities in the pilot areas all gave their support for the TMOs to do this work. However after the tenants had spent a great deal of volunteer time and public money, some of the local authorities, Birmingham and Wolverhampton being examples, decided they didn’t like the outcome and rejected the findings of the options appraisal.
Understandably this was extraordinarily frustrating for tenants (and DCLG) as the co-operation of the councils with the options appraisals process had created a reasonable expectation that they would take forward the best option.
We won’t take no for an answer
Tenant activists were not going to take this injustice lying down, they lobbied DCLG to do something about this and this received a sympathetic hearing. The then Labour Government were in favour of tenant empowerment, they were not in favour of local authorities blocking tenants on political grounds, and they did not like public money to be wasted on Tenant Led Stock Options appraisals that were ignored. This resulted in the Right to Transfer being included as s296 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.
Because of the previous attitude of certain local authorities, the RTT Statutory Guidance makes it explicit (para. 70) that objection to RTT proposals on political grounds will not be entertained.
So here we are, the current Coalition Government are still in favour of tenant empowerment which fits well with their localism agenda. Intransigent local authorities are still not amenable so the support is still there for RTT and tenants still need it to achieve the objectives of their communities.
- Mutualism Offers Social Housing ‘More than Markets’ (24dash.com)