Jurby Avenue Northwards
Northwards Homes on Jurby Avenue, Higher Blackley

Manchester retakes control of social housing delivery

Manchester City Council has opted to subsume its arm’s length management organisation Northwards Housing and deliver social housing itself, in a move estimated to save the authority £77m over the next 30 years. 

Northwards, which was appointed as the council’s arms-length management organisation for the delivery and management of social homes in 2005, will cease to exist as a separate entity from this summer, following a consultation during which 93% of respondents supported the move.

However, the Northwards brand will be retained along with its staff and services, Manchester City Council said.

The consultation, which launched last summer, followed a review by consultancy Campbell Tickell, which identified a number of weaknesses in the arm’s length model in terms of governance, performance, structure and delivery. 

In addition, changes in the UK’s Housing Revenue Account system, which has seen a Government-imposed 1% reduction in social housing rents over four years, has put pressure on council budgets and resulted in a deficit of £11m over 30 years for Manchester, according to the authority. 

Moreover, the need to invest in improved fire safety, and measures to make all existing homes net zero carbon by 2038, have also informed the decision to bring social housing in house. 

The £77m savings accrued over the next 30 years can be reinvested to improve services for tenants, the council said.  

Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “Northwards Housing has been at the heart of north Manchester communities for 15 years and I would like to thank [the staff] for their service to the city.   

“In bringing the service back into the council, we are keen to ensure that areas of best practice, which have had a significant and positive impact on local communities, are built upon.” 

Northwards manages 13,300 of the Manchester City Council’s 16,000 council homes. 

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This decision will result in a poorer service for tenants.

By Anonymous