COMMISSIONERS are planning to join forces to oppose any moves to remove the social housing role from local authorities.
The board of Onchan District Commissioners has written to the chairman and clerk of other housing authorities inviting them to a meeting to gauge local feelings on the issue.
In the letter, chief executive Malcolm Hulme said it would appear the Department of Social Care was ‘now working towards a policy of centralising management by removing the social housing functions from local authorities’.
He said: ‘The possible removal of this function from local authorities or other managing boards is seen by Onchan Commissioners to represent a serious reduction in the service that tenants and applicants currently receive.
‘It is also perceived to have very serious implications for those currently employed to provide this service, and the bodies who employ them.’
Mr Hulme said that in their response to the Social Care housing review, Onchan Commissioners had made their opposition to centralisation clearly known to the departments - and the board was aware that ‘many’ other authorities held the same opinion.
He added; ‘In view of the apparent policy of the department, my Commissioners have asked me to invite the chairman and clerk of other housing authorities to a meeting in order to gauge the true feelings of the local bodies concerned, and to define a strategy to protect the existing local provision.’
Onchan Commissioners hope that the meeting can be arranged later this month.
Onchan is currently the third largest local authority provider of general housing (394 homes), and the second largest for sheltered accommodation (100 homes).
Douglas Council, meanwhile, has indicated it wants more control over its social housing, including the ability to set rents.
The consultation on public sector housing outlines a range of options to tackle the growing £7 million housing deficit, including the introduction of means testing. It suggests the introduction of income-related rents and looks at the option of fixed-term tenancies and increased rents.
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