Homes for Islington to be brought back in house by Islington Council

Council housing in Islington will be brought back under town hall control, it was decided today.

Homes for Islington (HfI), the arms length management organisation that has run the borough’s estates for the past seven years, will be brought in-house from April.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: “By bringing housing back in-house, we can make savings long-term, by sharing back room functions with other council departments for example. We can spend that money on building new housing and investing in our stock.

“Most importantly, we want to improve tenants and leaseholders engagement in decision making and give them a direct say.”

HfI’s current contract had been due to finish in 2014. All staff - some 850 people - will transfer to the council, but he refused to say whether there will be job cuts further down the line as part of the back room savings.

Cllr Murray said the move has yet to be costed, but the council will have to bear “legal and practical” costs of “a few hundred thousand pounds” before any savings kick in. He added there are no immediate plans for a costly rebranding.

He added: “We’re being realistic - we are not waving a magic wand here. Residents will not see any major changes overnight, it will be business as usual - we’re keeping the same building, the same staff and the same housing officers.

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“Housing in Islington has improved a lot under HfI and we want to keep that going.”

The move is expected to be formally agreed by the executive on November 24. It follows a housing review that was launched in July and a consultation that was completed this month.

The news will delight campaigners who have long called for HfI to be disbanded - including 1,655 who signed an online petition on the council’s website.

But Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, which set up HfI in 2004 when it was in control of the town hall, said councillors have pre-empted residents views. He said: “We’ve seen a sham consultation that has cost nearly �50,000, has been boycotted by leading tenants and leaseholders and produced a pathetic 10% response rate. Now Labour councillors have just decided for residents, even though a decision was not due until late November.

“On such an important issue every council tenant and leaseholder should be able to have their say instead of just a hand-picked lucky few.”