Lewisham Homes – Lewisham Council’s Arms Length Management Organisation – faces the axe as consultations were agreed at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, 6th July 2022.
At that meeting Councillors made the case for bringing Lewisham Homes back in house as there is a break clause in the Management Agreement between the Council and the ALMO imminently. The ALMO is wholly owned by Lewisham Council and manages 20,000 homes.
Former cabinet member for customer service and current Lewisham Homes Board member, Cllr Susan Wise explained the long history of fragmentation of Lewisham Council’s housing stock. She explained how council homes were transferred to a PFI in Brockley and thousands of council owned homes were transferred to L&Q Housing Trust in Forest Hill, Rushey Green and Sydenham.
Cllr Susan Wise said: “I am one of the very few members and officers in this council that can recall how poor this Council’s housing management was. Because Lewisham [Council] knew its housing management was so poor, in 1998 the Council set up the Lewisham Housing Commission to look at options for the future of housing in our borough. This independent commission presented a number of recommendations….”
This prompted a Freedom of Information request for the release of the Lewisham Housing Commission’s report and appendices. The LHC was chaired by Labour peer, Lord Filkin with professionals and representatives of policy areas outside housing.
Interestingly, in a Guradian article, 9th November 2000, Jean Kysow, chair of the Federation of Lewisham Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations (Feltra) said: “We had to argue and fight before the commission would take evidence from us and from the private tenants. There were no tenants on the panel, except for one from the citizens’ panel. The housing commission has not come up with any new thinking – except that the council should talk with its tenants.”
In a statement, Lewisham Council says: “Following the Grenfell fire tragedy, new regulations will also come into force later this year, which will give landlords extra responsibilities which must be carried out by the Council.”
If the Grenfell fire and best practice in housing management has taught us anything, it is that tenants and leaseholders must have a real voice in decisions that affect them and their homes.
The full report of the Lewisham Housing Commission can be read below:Lewisham-Housing-Commission-Report-2000-Lord-Filkin