Star date: 8th September 2016


New draft accounts for City West Housing Trust show that the `community benefit society' made a £15.2million surplus in the year 2015-16, up from £14.7million the previous year, and paid one of its directors over £133,000, while increasing service charges to tenants.

The accounts also show that City West is moving away from providing social rent properties to the more expensive `affordable' and `market' rent properties, as it seeks to "maximise returns on assets".

Full details here...

City West Housing Trust
click image to enlarge

City West Housing Trust, which owns and manages 14,795 properties in Salford and has charitable status, made a £15.203million surplus before tax and has `revenue reserves' of £84.052million, according to new draft accounts for the year 2015-16.

City West, which took over Salford City Council's affordable housing in 2008 and merged into the ForViva Group last year, is a `community benefit society' but the accounts show that it is moving away from social rent properties towards the more expensive `affordable' and `market' rents.

Three market rent properties have been developed already, with approval to convert 91 properties to market rent from this month, while City West has also acquired 154 new non-affordable PRS (Private Rent Sector) apartments in Ordsall.

The accounts state that the Group built 111 units in 2015-16, of which 96 properties were `affordable rent' and 15 were `affordable home ownership', and that over £2million of the construction money was paid for with public money grants. There were 82 less social rent properties in the City West portfolio than the previous year..

This year, the Group intends to complete 216 units, of which 187 will be `affordable rent' and 29 `affordable home ownership'. The term `affordable rent' is incredibly misleading - `Affordable rent' is priced at 80% of market rent, rather than the much cheaper `social rent' which is between 40% and 60% of market rent.

Meanwhile, City West's allocation policy is changing. A resident wrote to the Salford Star recently complaining that one of the company's houses in Nelson Street, Patricroft, was only available to people who `must be in full time employment or education'...

"I was amazed" he said "I phoned City West and was told that these are new build and the unemployed can have criminal records or be drug users... Managing my rising anger, I asked how they were able to implement this discriminatory policy, and was told it was Government passed policy."

City West's accounts state that "The current Group Business Plan assumes a development programme of 1,428 new mixed tenure homes which include: Private Rented Scheme, Outright Sale, Help to Buy - Shared Ownership; Rent to Buy; Supported and Older Person's Rented Accommodation; Section 106 funded homes..."

As the organisation moves towards operating more like a private profit company, service charges are also rising. The company's accounts show that in the last year, service charge income charged to tenants rose by over £700,000, from £2.007million to over £2.778million.

During this period, the Salford Star has received numerous complaints from City West tenants about rising charges, from one man who had his garage rent almost doubled from £3.74 per week to £7.34 a week, to `bring rents in line with local markets' ("I thought they were non-profit making" he said)...to increasing fuel charges in towerblocks by 40%..."We don't know why these charges are going up" Tony Ormonde of the Craunton, Cremer, Ewood Tenants Association told the Salford Star in April (see here) "Where is the 40% going?"

The accounts possibly answer this by stating "There was...income of £99,045 relating to energy feed-in tariffs, this is taxable and the related charge has been calculated to be £19,809...." It appears that the extra revenue was going straight into City West coffers.

The accounts also state that the company aims to increase income by £300,000 in `Recharges, service charges, garage rents and affordable' by 2018-19.

Meanwhile, last December the Salford Star reported that over 750 people who live in sheltered accommodation within City West Housing Trust schemes saw charges rise for things like wardens, pull cords and wellbeing phone calls, while the service was being reduced...

Helen Cunningham Patterson, who is registered blind and physically disabled, told the Star she would have to find around £30 a month extra from her Disability Living Allowance to pay City West, having already coped with increases in council tax...

"My whole life feels like it's been turned upside down because of what's happened" she explained "The money that's given to me to help with the disabilities I have, to be able to live independently, is being eaten away just so that I can survive in the property. But it's not just the increases, it's about the care that I had and the stability I had within the scheme before this happened. I felt very confident and safe whereas now I don't." (see article here)

The accounts state that "In 2015/16, the Trust reviewed it's sheltered scheme management service to mitigate the loss of supporting people funding... By reconfiguring the service to enable a substantial proportion of it to be paid through intensive housing management charges and implementing an equitable charging regime across the whole service, the Trust have been able to achieve an overall saving of £172,000."

City West argues in its accounts that these acts are to mitigate Tory Government cuts in the Supporting People budget and the forced 1% reduction of rents over the next four years... "the efficiencies required to mitigate the impact of these changes would be in the region of £8.75m" it states, adding that it has slashed management costs too.

City West also aims to "accelerate the introduction of affordable and market rents", and to "maximise returns on assets", adding "The non-affordable products being delivered to make returns to allow us to deliver much needed affordable properties and investment and the communities in which The Trust operate..."

The problem is that while City West makes huge surpluses, those needing to get a truly affordable house are finding it more and more difficult, while tenants themselves are struggling to pay the increased costs.

The accounts show that net rent arrears increased by £643,000, from £1.165million in March 2015, to £2.258million in March 2016...

The draft City West accounts are due to ratified by its board next week

See also previous Salford Star articles...

Nine Year Waiting List for One Bedroom Affordable Flat in Salford - click here

Salford Council Admits Housing Waiting List Applicants Have No Chance of Being Re-Housed - click here

Salford City Council Figures Show 50% of Salford Families Cannot Afford to Buy a Low Cost House - click here

Salford Housing Report Shows Working Class Being Priced Out of Regeneration Areas - click here

Leo wrote
at 08:09:49 on 26 June 2017
Hi, If Tahir Chakotai(Indepndent Housing Advocate) or anyone else who is reading this I would appreciate if I could receive any comment on my issues below very soon. I am having an issue with City West's high renovation costs. I am a leaseholder of thier flat and they were taking me to courts about their extremely high proportion of thier roof replacement and other renovating costs. They would not reveal how much funding they received for renovating my derelict flat over shops, which had been neglected for years. They also bullied me in many ways using some very unethical practices by converting the shop below me to be a noisy/smelly fastfood takeaway without any consultation whatsoever, leading to strong protest among the neighbours. Regards, Leo
Tahir Chakotai (Indepndent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 20:59:42 on 11 September 2016
Just a quick comment to thank Marcus for his kind words. I really appreciated every word. Kindest Regards, from Tahir Chakotai, (Independent Housing Advocate). :)
Marcus wrote
at 15:42:45 on 11 September 2016
Well said Tahir, and keep up the good work. It is good to see selfless actions for the good of the community, as opposed to selfish words on behalf of ones own political agenda. And you summed up Mr Felse very well!
Michael James Felse wrote
at 15:42:40 on 11 September 2016
Hi wrote. Please re-read my comment. These 720 homes taken back are not each 3 bedroomed. But taken back these smaller properties will enable them to be modernized and adapted for senior citizen care supported accommodation. That in turn will free up the larger homes vacated and thus then offered to 720 families on the housing waiting list. I underestimate the 720 as it is based on 4 abusers in each ward of Greater Manchester. And no I am still at the skills academy conferences but obviously my mind remains focused on my home patch. Felse.
Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 15:42:20 on 11 September 2016
@wrote Just wanted to say a massive thank you for your well written comment concerning Michael James Felse. Once again you have brought a smile to my face, and for that, I am truly grateful. Carry on the good work. Kindest Regards from Tahir Chakotai, (Independent Housing Advocate).
Tahir Chakotai (Indpendent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 10:26:25 on 11 September 2016
Dear Michael James Felse, we do differ on many levels. In my opinion, you have a very low self esteem and think you need a fancy title to help people. I on the other hand have had some very fancy titles, due to my background, education, and experience, but choose not to use them. I legally and practically defend those that cannot defend themselves, while you, in my own opinion, just talk about it, to gain a fancy title. I also defend those who are in need of some legal and / or practical support, to put something back into society. In my opinion, Michael James Felse talks a good story to promote his own status within the Local Government. Last but not least, what I do for society, is certainly not on behalf of a Political Party, thus my title "INDEPENDENT", however Michael James Felse, in my opinion, pretends that he is interested and wants to help the vulnerable within society, in order to please his peers within UKIP. I would also like to apologise for my previous comment that did not have any literal precision whatsoever. I could not concentrate properly due to the intense laughter that was caused by a person who thought I was a Labour Councillor. Lol. For those who know me, they probably will be laughing too :) In conclusion, and in my opinion, I put more into society, than I have ever taken out. What I do for others, comes with no rewards, just punishments. As stated in a previous comment, "I have undertaken so many legal battles and won them for vulnerable adults, that the I am now constantly targeted, and threatened legally, with unlawful eviction, on a day to day, year to year basis ". People like Micheal James Felse, in my opinion, never really achieve anything for anyone, but certainly possess more verbal dexterity than I. In my opinion, what he does, only serves his purposes, and certainly not societies. If I had one wish, it would not be to win the lottery, my wish would be for the general public within Salford, to end homelessness and the ongoing victimisation and abuse of vulnerable adults, once and for all. Kindest Regards to all Salford Star Readers, from Tahir Chakotai, ("INDEPENDENT" Housing Advocate).
at 10:26:16 on 11 September 2016
Felse, where do you get 720 from, and how do you know this '720' live in 3 bedroomed social housing?? Truth is you don't, it's just another attempt for you to plug your pathetic attempt at trying yet again for political power! I take it you are back from your holiday in Spain? Deluded self-serving oaf!
Michael James Felse wrote
at 21:20:41 on 10 September 2016
I do think Tahir and I differ on methods. Such as on evictions. If I was Greater Manchester Mayor I would use the police register to evict the 720 peadophiles from social housing and hand the 720 modernize adapted properties to local pensioners, thus freeing up 720 three bedroom homes for local families. And I do not think Tahir is a Labour member. Felse.
Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 16:57:21 on 10 September 2016
@wrote. Dear @Wrote, I do not have a political agenda and I am certainly nothing like Mr. Felse :) If you have every met me, you will know that I do not particularly like Politics, and certainly have no aspirations of becoming a Councilor, MP, or Mayor. My last comment was to show that the increase of rents by Salford Housing Associations, was not the only way they were using to get rid certain tenants, who claim benefits. My comment was meant to support someone who has been trying obtain the same answers from certain Housing Associations, and to inform the general public that a large group of people have a louder and more influential voice, than one individual. I also do not support any Political Party, which is why I always type against my name the word "Independent". It means exactly that. So I did find your comment quite amusing when you thought I was part of the Labour Party :) If you had of met me in real life, you would realise how amusing this comment is. I only have one agenda, and that is to stop the unlawful evictions and victimisation of the vulnerable and disabled, who reside in Salford. Kindest Regards, from Tahir Chakotai ("INDEPENDENT" Housing Avocate).
Wrote wrote
at 09:02:36 on 10 September 2016
Sounds like Mr Tahir is being more political minded than Mr Felse. Are you a Labour Councillor?
Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 08:01:25 on 10 September 2016
@Paul Gerrard. It's good to know that I am not the only one hitting my head against a brick wall, when trying to get answers from Housing Associations within Salford. I see you have hit the same problem as me Paul. We both ask the same questions, to the Housing Associations, but either get ridiculous answers, or they will not comment at all. For the last 12 months my Housing Association took me to court in order to get me evicted, for allegedly "STOPPING THE LANDLORDS FUNCTION". They felt that the sending of emails to them, by me, who is physically disabled, was completely out of order, as they did not see that their lift disrepair was deemed an emergency to a physically disabled adult, living on the top floor of a tower block. Obviously after the Housing Associasion in question gave their evidence, the case collapsed and I ended up with a Court Order against them. However, my Housing Association feel that they do not have to stick to the terms of my court order, and have been breaching it regularly over the last two weeks. Considering I only acquired this court order on the 10th of August 2016, what my Housing Association is doing, constitutes as an act of harrasment towards a vulnerable adult. I've mentioned this because I am one of many, who are disabled and deemed vulnerable, who have been wrongly accused of a tenancy breach, within a court of law, by a Housing Association within Salford. I regularly defend vulnerable adults against such dire and inhumane legal action by their Social Landlords, however as a result of winning every case, it has made me a target. So it would seem, in my opinion, that the Housing Associations within Salford are not just trying to socially cleanse their properties by putting up the rent, but are also making up fictitious nonsense to unlawfully evict vulnerable adults, from their properties. The whole thing is unacceptable. I am pleased to see that more and more people are opening up their eyes, and are now standing up for their tenancy rights. However one voice will never be enough to ensure the Housing Associations within Salford listen. It's time we all grouped together, so we become a powerful influence, and once again take control of our tenancy rights, and hopefully, in my opinion, stop the social cleansing that is occuring within Salford based Housing Associations.
Michael James Felse wrote
at 12:41:26 on 09 September 2016
Sharon you are correct. Fact is the £80million cumalitive profit in the article is at just one Salford housing trust. But across Greater Manchester it multiplies by at least 10. If I was a housing tenant I would demand action to stop socialists making profits by their top down contempt In who they rape rents from our most vulnerable. To have a net kitty of a billion pounds taken from tenants we can honestly believe we have the worst set of elected councils in the UK. The Greater Manchester Mayor will have the power to take back the billion pounds by surcharging community interest profit. It is enough cash to build 10,000 new social homes for local folk. Felse.
Sharon Hooley (Independant Housing Advocate & Activist) wrote
at 05:57:09 on 09 September 2016
Utterly Disgusting. Soon there will be no affordable homes and even more people will become destitute.//I'm disabled and desperate to get a home that is suitable for my needs. I don't want to end up spending more time and public money having to have carers (because I have no access to my kitchen or bathroom) and in hospital (due to potential falls as well as the ones I already have had.)Not only that but I'd be pushed to lesser habitable properties than the one I'm already trying to get out of due to medical conditions.//God knows how anyone would want this. It seems the future for the working class and the ill and disabled are going back into Victorian history...we'll all be put in work houses, asylums and prison like residential homes next.
Paul Gerrard wrote
at 05:57:04 on 09 September 2016
Earlier this summer Salford against Cuts raised the issue of the employment criterion for supposedly social housing. We were particularly concerned about the implications for people with mental health issues who might be unable to work and as a result become ineligible for social housing. We wrote to all the councillors who sit on the boards of Salix and City West. None of them replied. We believe UNISON has also raised this more recently and we hope they have more success than we did.
Common sense wrote
at 05:56:39 on 09 September 2016
Tahir, you talk of social cleansing, your absolutely right. I talked of this about three or four years ago. People thought I was mad, I said that salford was the new London, just as in London, true Londoners were being forced out of London using high rents and council tax. But the biggest problem in all of this story isn't city west or Salix, it's the people of this city who keep being hood winked, the people had the choice to go with city west, Salix or stay with the council, they were offered new kitchens, bathrooms And chose to leave the council, sorry this salford labour council don't offer the people if this city anything unless it's in the best interest of certain labour councillors or its millionaires friends, I said before the people in this city voted to go with city west or Salix, that once the housing stock was sold that rents wound eventually go up to private sector levels. Salford labour council only want, as in London, high wage professional people, with cheap labour to look after them. So if you want to know what salford will look like in say the next twenty to thirty years, then look no further than London, also remember it was labour and hazel blears who shut down hope hospitals maternity unit, no more salford born babies, so in future no more salford people, so you don't have to provide housing no longer.
Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 21:04:04 on 08 September 2016
I am totally confused and shocked about the further raising of rent for City West Properties. Here is why I am concerned and shocked. Most of City West's properties are ex-council, and were built between 1955 - 1987. In my opinion, most of the properties are not adequately sound proofed, have a dysfunctional lift service, and some of their properties have signs of damp / Ingresed Water Problem, causing a toxic black mould build up on the walls. City West, in my opinion, should only be charging a maximum of 60% of the markets rentable value for each of their properties. Modern properties have to be built to to a certain standard, which means that they are sound proofed adequately, have a reliable lift service, and are free from disrepair, as new builds have a 10 year building guarantee. So why on earth would you pay 80% market value for an inferior property, when for 20% more you can have a sound proofed new build with a ten year guarantee and has absolutely no disrepair. Another factor that should be mentioned is that most of the City West properties, in my opinion, were refurbished to a minimum standard using a Government Grant. So, in my opinion, City West cannot state that the raising the rent is to cover the costs of refurbishing their properties. In conclusion, and in my opinion, this seems to imply that their is an underlying agenda to socially cleanse their properties of those who claim a form of benefit, and replace those tenants with a person who is in full time employment.
Simon wrote
at 16:33:54 on 08 September 2016
Agenda 21 read it . Substaiable housing. And it ant in our favour. Depopulation is another part of it
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