Letter to tenants, leaseholders and shared owners on proposed changes - October 2023

Cheltenham Borough Council is proposing to take back the housing management of its homes from Cheltenham Borough Homes

We are writing today to let you know that the Council is intending on bringing the management of its homes back in-house. This means that, subject to the decision making processes, we will be closing our arms length management company Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH).

The remainder of this letter sets out what this means for you. You can also find more information about why we are making this change by reading the report which will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on 17th October. You will find this on our website at www.cheltenham.gov.uk. Please click on ‘proposed changes to the management of housing services’, which you will find on the front page of our website.

Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) has established itself in our local communities as a well-respected organisation. It has been running for 20 years and continues to achieve high levels of satisfaction for its customers. We are proud of its achievements.

CBH was originally set up 20 years ago to manage our council homes on behalf of the Council. A key reason for this was so that CBH could access central government funding to help bring our homes up to the Decent Homes standard. In 2016, government funding for bringing social homes up to this standard came to an end, meaning that any investment in our homes since then is met from our own budgets. 

Why is the Council taking back the housing management of its homes from CBH?  

The new Social Housing (Regulation) Act means that the Council, along with all other local housing authorities and social housing providers, will be subject to increased scrutiny and regulation. If things go wrong, accountability rests with the Council as landlord, rather than with CBH as the organisation managing our homes on our behalf. We therefore think that our current arrangements do not reflect the changing regulatory position as well as it could. More importantly, we want to be closer to you, so that we can hear your views directly and develop more ways for you to be able to influence the way we shape our housing services in the future.  

The cost of living crisis has also placed significant financial pressures on the provision of services. This crisis has come at a time when the Council has set out ambitious plans to deliver more affordable homes, and to be carbon net zero by 2030. In order to help meet these aims, and to ensure that we continue to provide quality homes and invest in our communities long into the future, we have to change the way we do things so that we can provide more efficient housing services.

What are the key changes? 

We are proposing that CBH is wound up as a company. The winding up of CBH as a company would automatically terminate the management agreement the Council has with CBH.

On 17 October, Cabinet will be asked to approve a recommendation to move towards closing CBH as a company, with a view to bringing the housing service back under the direct control of the Council.  It is likely to take a number of months to complete these arrangements. In the meantime, you will be able to report your repairs, raise any neighbourhood concerns and make any complaints in the same way that you can do now – i.e. directly to CBH.

As we move into and beyond this period of change, we will consult with you on what the future of our housing services will look like. Ultimately, we are answerable to you, so your voice is critical in how we operate the future delivery of our housing services. 

How will these changes affect you?

During this transitionary period, you are unlikely to notice any significant changes. We do not expect that day-to-day functions will change very much, although we will of course continue to explore how we can make things better. Over time the changes you can expect to see are likely to be as follows:

  • You will have a direct link to the Council. This will ensure that we are better informed to make the right decisions that benefit you at the right time.
  • You will have a more streamlined customer journey through one organisation, rather than two, for all your council services – housing, council tax, waste and recycling, benefits, etc.
  • In the future, there will be the potential to combine teams, such as the Council’s and CBH’s development teams, leading to greater resilience, better sharing of knowledge and improved service performance.
  • We will also have the potential to work more efficiently across neighbourhoods. At present, there is the risk of duplication, with the Council and CBH both working in our neighbourhoods. We will seek to remove any duplication to ensure that every pound is better spent for your benefit and for the benefit of our homes and our communities.

As we look to the future, tenants and leaseholders will have the opportunity to be front and centre in helping to shape what our housing services will look like.

Do you want to know more?

  • Please also see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) attached to this letter. These will be updated on our webpage, which you’ll find on the front page of our website and then clicking on ‘proposed changes to the management of housing services’. 
  • If you have any questions, please send them to: [email protected] and we will use these to refresh our FAQs.

Yours faithfully

Gareth Edmundson, Chief Executive