- Glasgow Housing Association
Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) is a private not-for-profit company created by the Scottish Executive for the purpose of owning and managing Glasgow's social housing stock. This housing stock, numbering many thousands of houses and flats, was, prior to 2003, owned by the Glasgow City Council. Following a poll of the Council's tenants, the vast majority of their social housing was transferred to the ownership of the Glasgow Housing Association. The transfer was mired in controversy at the time, there was a strong No campaign backed by the STUC and many commentators doubted that there was a genuine desire on the part of the tenants to transfer to another landlord. However, a condition of having Glasgow's housing debt written off was whole stock transfer. This was initially going to be to one landlord, however, the Scottish Executive intervened and produced a Framework Document which introduced the concept of second stage transfer to smaller Housing Associations over time.
Second Stage Transfer
It is a key part of the GHA's business plan and original mandate, that at a later point, the housing stock should be transferred further from GHA, to a number of smaller housing associations. The reason given for this transfer is that social housing should be under the control of corporations local to the houses they are controlling.
Currently, GHA is taking part in a trial of the Secondary Stage Transfer process, along with several of the smaller housing associations mentioned above.
GHA is currently running several months behind schedule and has recently released a thirty-year business plan, leading to vocal speculation from some organisations that the company does not wish to transfer all of its housing stock to the smaller groups.
Since the SNP Government has been elected there has been an Inspection Report produced by Communities Scotland which accepts that second stage transfer as envisaged is undeliverable within the GHA's financial envelope. It has emerged that second stage transfer was not costed when the whole stock transfer was voted on. Many of the community based Housing Associations have banded together and hired media consultants to try and place pressure on the Scottish Government to deliver SST. The Government has responded by saying that they accept the Communities Scotland report in whole, meaning that they accept that SST as envisaged will not happen. Interestingly, the architect of GHA and the envisager of SST was Wendy Alexander, the former leader of the Labour Party in Scotland. Therefore the issue has become intensely political. However, most indications are that the tenants of GHA are not interested in SST.
On 26th October 2007, 16 LHO's were given approval to proceed with their plans for second stage transfer. These organisations manage 6,000 houses. A further 17 LHO's were advised that further work was necessary, and six were told that they did not meet the criteria for second stage transfer. The majority of the housing stock will remain with the GHA which must now concentrate on being a medium to long term landlord.
GHA (Management) Ltd
The GHA is responsible for factoring owner-occupied 4-in-a-blocks, tenements and multi-stories flats that share communal structures with GHA-owned properties. To this end, GHA has set up a subsidiary company, Glasgow Housing Association (Management) Limited (GHA(M)), to manage their factoring responsibilities. GHA(M) is a profit-making company and made in the region of £2 million in profits over the financial year 2005/2006.
GHA's repair and general upkeep record has come under sustained attack from factored-owners, who often receive large bills for work they do not feel is required or feel is poor value for money. Owners are usually minority stakeholders in communal structures (with the GHA being the majority stakeholder) which means that the GHA does not require permission of owners to conduct work on communal structures, yet owners are expected to pay there share of work (within 12 months of completion) even if they did not want the work to go ahead.
Before stock transfer from GCC to GHA, few owners were billed for work as the Council's Housing Department was over £1 billion in debt, and all extra funds were used to service that debt. After transfer to the GHA, the debt was written off by the Treasury. The GHA now has the funds available to do necessary works to maintain and upgrade their properties and have started a large scale Investment programme to improve the standard of GHA homes. Although this is welcomed by tenants, factored-owners find that they are being billed for work they can not cannot necessary afford. This has resulted in several high-profile cases where owners have been charged over £3,000 for work they did not want or agree to. To help factored-owners GHA, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government and the Glasgow Credit Union have developed assistant packages of grants and loans to help factored-owners pay for investment work.
Many owner occupiers in private dwellings look at the level of grant funded assistance given to GHA-factored-owners, as the same assistance is not available to them. Many of them ask why these tenants purchased their properties without ensuring they had the necessary income to take care of their responsibilities. And many owner occupiers question why there is a two tier system whereby owners in GHA-factored properties are treated more favourably by the Council than any other house owner.
* [http://www.gha.org.uk GHA] The official corporate site
* [http://www.gha.org.uk/content/mediaassets/doc/business_plan_final.pdf GHA Business Plan] - The GHA's 30-year business plan - freely available
* [http://www.citystrolls.com City Strolls] - A Glasgow news and opinion site with a lot of material on Glasgow's housing
* [http://glasgowresidents.wordpress.com Glasgow Residents Network] - A blog-style site providing information on housing in Glasgow and details of much of Glasgow's independent (not state-supported) residents' associations.
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