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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 12:57 GMT
Housing body sits on surplus
Broken window
A 10-year plan will bring Glasgow's social housing up to standard
Glasgow Housing Association is sitting on a 90m surplus after failing to spend 35% of its maintenance budget.

Although the body took control of the city council housing stock almost a year ago, tenants have complained that their homes are not being improved.

But chief executive Michael Lennon said the programme is based around a phased 10-year strategy.

He said the surplus was due to problems with contracts, access to homes and a lack of skilled workers in the city.

Unimpressed

The association manages the city's 80,000 council homes after a majority of tenants voted in favour of the move last April.

The not-for-profit charity promised to turn around the dilapidated houses and flats within a decade by carrying out millions of pounds worth of repairs.

But current tenants like Sandra McKinley, who lives in Airgold Drive, Drumchapel, has not been impressed so far.

Just give us a decent home - that's all we're asking for.
Sandra McKinley

She told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme how her home was slowly falling apart and how she may have to spend up to another five years in the property before moving.

Asked about the association's repair and maintenance programme, she said: "It's non-existent. Who can live in houses like these for four or five years - it's affecting everybody's health?

"Just give us a decent home - that's all we're asking for."

Mr Lennon admitted she was not alone, but said the association would do its best to address her housing issues.

Long-term plans

He said the organisation would be sitting on a surplus by the end of the year but said it was part of the overall plan.

Mr Lennon explained: "The project that's been put together is for a 10-year programme over a 30-year programme of management that's intended to bring Glasgow's housing up to a decent standard.

"We've had 11 months so far and I think we can show there's a solid record on which we can build an adventurous programme over the next 10 years."

He said he believed "splashing" out "big money" on cheap housing in the short-term would not solve anything.

Cash rich

Mr Lennon said: "By the end of the year we will have a surplus certainly in excess of 90m.

"For these kinds of big capital projects, and this is a 2bn project, you can finance them in two ways - with cash or with debt.

"This was always intended to be a cash-rich project early on and if it wasn't we'd be paying the banks lots of interest early in the first stages of the programme."

He put the current maintenance and repair surplus down to three main problems;

  • contractors asking too much to carry out maintenance and repair and a reluctance on the part of the GHA to pay over-the-odds for such work

  • problems of access to tenants homes to carry out the work

  • and a lack of suitably skilled workers in the city to carry out the necessary repairs on its properties.

Communities Minister Margaret Curran, whose job it is to make sure the association is carrying out its job properly, said she understood the long-term approach it was taking.

She said: "I don't think there was ever any indication that there would be immediate solutions automatically delivered in Glasgow.

"But I think we do have the structure of delivering that investment, we do have the scale of the investment we need and we do have the system that will deliver that in a sustained and effective way.

"My role is to make sure the GHA does deliver on all its commitments its given to tenants.

"Communities Scotland is heavily involved with the GHA to make sure that they do that and give everyone a guarantee that we will make sure that the GHA will deliver."


SEE ALSO:
Housing tenants 'disappointed'
21 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Final step for stock transfer
07 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Green light for stock transfer
05 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Tenants back housing transfer
05 Apr 02  |  Scotland
Mixed response to stock transfer
05 Apr 02  |  Scotland


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