Perhaps the question could be “Are you getting the best out of your ALMO?”, “Are you managing your housing service in the most efficient way?”, or “What more could your ALMO do for you?”
Last year saw announcements from the London Boroughs of Enfield, Hounslow and Lambeth that their ALMOs will be taken back in-house. However, while ALMO numbers have reduced from a peak of 70 to 47 in recent years this trend hides a number of interesting new developments:
New ALMO creation
Four ALMOs have been created since 2010. The most recent is Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing which manages all of the 4,200 Shropshire Council owned homes in the Oswestry & Bridgnorth areas. The ALMO was set up as part of the Council’s drive to find efficiencies.
A desire to deliver cost savings was also the motivation behind the creation of East Kent’s ‘super ALMO’ which manages 17,500 homes owned by four local authorities in Kent. While East Kent is currently the only example of shared services being delivered through an ALMO, other shared service arrangements between ALMOs exist, including the North West Arms Length Management Organisation Group.
Fat and Thin ALMOs
Alongside brand new ALMOs a number of local authorities have renewed or altered their agreements with their ALMO resulting in some significant additional service areas and work streams for ALMOs. This has led to the emergence of two groups: ‘thin’ and ‘fat’ ALMOs.
‘Fat’ ALMOs are those that have taken on significant additional service areas and work streams. These include services previously delivered by the local authority such as homelessness and housing options (Ascham Homes), new-build housing development (Stockport Homes) and even street cleaning (South Tyneside Homes). A number of these ‘fat’ ALMOs are also branching out to provide services to third parties.
‘Thin’ ALMOs by comparison predominantly focus on delivering core housing services such as tenancy management, rent collection, repairs, maintenance and neighbourhood services. These core housing services are occasionally delivered alongside a housing development function in a ‘thin’ ALMO.
We have recently carried out work for Westminster City Council to review their ALMO, CityWest Homes and evaluate the housing management options available to them including options around CityWest being ‘fatter’ or ‘thinner’. We also made recommendations on performance improvement and efficiency generations in its housing service. The final published report is available on Westminster’s website.
So whether you are an ALMO contemplating your future or a local authority interested in maximising the efficiency of your housing management, or improving the opportunities of your housing service be that fat or thin, get in touch today for a discussion about how we can help you.