In Sheffied the tenants in the 42,000 Council owned properties are technically not Council tenants but tenants of Sheffield Homes, the Council's Arms Length Management Organisation. In Islington the 35,000 Council properties are run by Homes for Islington. Both councils are proposing to take housing back in house to reduce management overheads – Islington believe it will save them £1.5 million a year.
In Hammersmith and Fulham we have already taken our ALMO back in house, although Westminster are keeping theirs. Lambeth are also keeping their one even though it has done a terrible job. Others are looking at breaking away from their ALMOs entirely by making them into Housing Associations. Rochdale Council's ALMO is planning to become a cooperative. Cornwall are seeking to save management costs by transferring General Fund housing functions (allocations, etc) to an enhanced ALMO. So that is an alternative method of cutting admin to having the Council responsible for all the housing matters.
ALMOs were set up as a means of getting extra money for the Decent Homes Programme. Now that has been completed a pragmatic judgment can be taken on how well they are working. Some on the Left have seen the issue in ideological terms. the group Defend Council Housing regards a transfer to an ALMO as "privatisation." Amusingly they have praised my council for getting rid of our ALMO.
If only an ALMO did transform the standards for what most private tenants expect. Private landlords know they must please their tenants or face them moving out. That is why the state makes for a bad landlord. Switching to and from an ALMO doesn't change this. The tenants looked from Sheffield Council to Sheffield Homes and from Sheffield Homes to Sheffield Council but already it was impossible to say which was which.