Move to scrap £130million of homes debt allows council housing plans to push forward

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins
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A DECISION to scrap £130million of debt has allowed proposals to transfer ownership of council homes to move forward.

The Government says passing responsibility for the homes to the existing organisations in County Durham will mean extra cash will be invested in properties for years to come.

It follows an application by Durham County Council in November which sought permission to transfer its homes to the organisations – East Durham Homes, Durham City Homes and Dale and Valley Homes – via a new housing group.

Consultation will run until the summer and lead up to a single ballot on the council’s proposal to transfer the homes. The plans have been able to move on after the historic debt – £130million attributed to the authority after the national housing debt was totted up and redistributed to councils – was cleared by the Government.

Councillor Eddie Tomlinson, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Government approval is a monumental step in the council’s proposition and goal to improve social housing overall for the benefit of the county.

“Now that we have Government support, we can work with tenants and other key stakeholders across our communities to highlight what transfer would mean for them and how they can get involved in hearing about the council’s proposal, which will lead up to a tenants’ ballot.”

In the coming months, tenants will be able to find out more through drop-in sessions, newsletters, updates from staff and the council’s own document, which will state the promises the transfer would bring.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “This transfer will be good news for tenants as it offers the opportunity to get renovations and refurbishments made to the housing stock, and we’ve agreed with Durham that leaseholders get the protections they deserve in respect of those works.”