Barnet Homes has been named one of the most outstanding organisations of its kind in the country.
The company, which manages 15,000 properties on behalf of Barnet Council, has been shortlisted for Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO) of the Year at the 2012 UK Housing Awards. There are currently almost 60 ALMOs in the country, managing more than 800,000 homes.
The shortlisting for the awards, run by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing magazine, recognises Barnet Homes’ achievements in overseeing rising resident satisfaction with its services while making major budget savings and embarking on one of the most radical programmes of change for any UK ALMO.
In February 2012 Barnet Homes became the first ALMO nationally to link with a social care organisation. It became part of a Barnet Council-owned local authority trading company, called The Barnet Group, which also includes an adult social care organisation, Your Choice Barnet. This provides a range of services for people with learning and physical disabilities previously managed by the council.
The organisations share a Chair and Chief Executive, while the social care services are supported by teams already in place at Barnet Homes, such as human resources and finance. The Barnet Group could incorporate further services over time.
On 1 April Barnet Homes also took over the management of a range of additional housing services provided by the council, including the allocation of homes to applicants and offering housing advice. The change means people will deal with one organisation only from the point of becoming homeless to the stage where they may no longer need a tenancy.
Social care and housing staff have transferred to Your Choice Barnet and Barnet Homes through TUPE arrangements, with The Barnet Group now comprising around 600 staff.
Barnet Homes Chief Executive, Tracey Lees, said: “Some ALMOs have gone back to their councils after finishing their Decent Homes modernisation programmes. Our view was that the ALMO model was proving extremely effective – for us, the council and our residents – so we decided to take quite radical steps to ensure a future for Barnet Homes.
“The creation of The Barnet Group and our expansion means we can start applying our vision of great service at great value, along with our commitment to involving customers in all that we do – to other services. We can also take advantage of some of the close links between housing and social care.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to retain high quality services during the programme of change, and that our resident satisfaction continues to rise.
“The awards shortlisting is a resounding endorsement for all we have been trying to achieve. I’d like to congratulate all of our staff and all of those residents who have got involved and helped us at every step of the way.”
Pam Wharfe, Barnet Council’s Interim Director of Environment, Planning and Regneration, said: “It is great news that the hard work of all the staff at Barnet Homes has been recognised in this way. I am confident that the additional services Barnet Homes will provide into the future will only serve to improve the organisation even further and confirm Barnet Homes as an innovator in the ALMO sector.”
The awards will be announced at a ceremony in central London on 27 June 2012.