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SALFORD ‘FIRST SOCIAL HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE’ PROMISE IN FLAMES
 

Star date: 16th March 2018

SALIX BROKEN PROMISE THAT TENANTS 'WOULD BE IN CHARGE OF THEIR HOMES' 

Back when Salix Homes was pushing tenants to vote 'Yes' in transferring their homes from Salford City Council, the company promised that, should the vote go in its favour, "A new mutual Salix Homes would be owned by and accountable to its ...tenants and employees...genuine public ownership with true resident involvement".

Now that promise is in flames, with the company's Board deciding that "becoming a mutual organisation would not be in Salix Homes best interests"...

Full details here...


Salix Homes Press Release 2014
click image to enlarge

In 2014, there was an all out political war over whether to vote 'Yes' or 'No' to the transfer to Salix Homes of thousands of Salford City Council owned houses and flats.

Back then, Salix was an ALMO, or 'arms length management organisation', under the control of Salford Council - but both the leading lights on the Council and Salix itself urged tenants to vote 'Yes' to the transfer, with a barrage of propaganda to go with it (see previous Salford Star articles – click here and click here).

As well as promising stuff like new kitchens and wonderful decent homes, Salix also promised that, if the vote went in its favour, the company would morph into a mutual, or co-operative, in which its tenants and staff had a huge say in how it was run.

In January 2014, for instance, Salix issued a press release under the heading of a 'Bright future for social housing tenants', gushing that "Exciting plans have been announced to launch one of the UK's first social housing co-operatives in Salford...

"Salford City Council has given the green light for Salix Homes to become a 'mutual' organisation, owned by tenants and employees, if residents support plans for a proposed stock transfer" it added.

The company underlined the point over and over again in the press release, in case anyone missed it "...If tenants vote 'Yes' to transfer, Salix Homes is poised to become one of the first employee co-owned mutual housing providers in the country, giving tenants greater control over the way housing services are provided.

"A new mutual Salix Homes would be owned by and accountable to its members, made up of tenants and employees, creating a new form of genuine public ownership with true resident involvement."

The naked propaganda went on and on and on...with Salix's Chief Executive Joe Willis, who's now gone, stating "A new mutual Salix Homes would be based on the longstanding principles of co-operation and mutuality providing a bright future for social housing tenants in Salford who, in partnership with Salix Homes' employees, will be in charge of the future of their homes. However, this bold vision can only become a reality if tenants vote for transfer."

And then there was Gena Merrett, Salford's Assistant Mayor for Housing, who has also now disappeared from the political face of the earth. She spewed: "Becoming a 'mutual' would ensure that residents are involved at every level of Salix Homes. This vision of staff and tenants working closely together to shape the future for Salix Homes is a hugely exciting prospect, but it is the kind of opportunity that can only become reality if residents vote for the transfer."

They even got a tenant, Barbara Harper, in on the act..."A mutual Salix Homes would be a relationship of equals with employees and tenants working together to help shape the future of housing in Salford, but this exciting opportunity for the people of Salford will not be possible if the homes remain under council ownership..."

How could anyone resist voting 'Yes' to the transfer? In the event, after a campaign by union reps, housing activists and rogue Labour Party councillors, around 40% of tenants did vote against the transfer but it wasn't enough and the transfer went ahead.

Now, four years later, and sneaked into a report to be seen by councillors next week, Salix comes clean that the promise has been smashed to pieces...

"...the Board reviewed a detailed independent report on customer and employee engagement. One of the bases for that report was to fulfil the stock transfer promise to consider whether to become a mutual organisation. On the back of the evidence provided, the Board decided that becoming a mutual organisation would not be in Salix Homes best interests..."

A promise to consider becoming a mutual??? That is not what was implied categorically in the press release pimping for people's votes. George Orwell would be proud!

So now, Salix Homes remains as, well, no-one is quite sure...It calls itself a 'Charitable Society' (but is not featured on the Charities Commission website) and a 'Registered Provider of Social Housing'...

The report to the Council also adds a request by Salix to remove two, out of four, councillors from its Board, thereby reducing accountability further.

Meanwhile, Salix has set up two subsidiary profit making private companies, Salix Homes Developments Ltd and Salix Living Ltd, as it moves more and more into providing market sales and rent properties, or as it states, 'future commercial activities'.

The last set of Salix Homes accounts, for 2016-17, show that the company made almost £8.5million surplus and had reserves of £43.5million.

The highest paid employee at Salix Homes, Chief Exec Lee Sugden, trousered £133,000 plus £26,260 pension payments. Two other staff also earned between £90,000 and £100,000...


The report by Salix Homes will be going to the full meeting of Salford Council next week. P.S. The councillors never, ever, discuss these reports which are always at the end of the agenda; they just 'note' them and scurry off for lunch...


bill pearson wrote
at 5:23:07 AM on Sunday, March 18, 2018
"Here we go again" another so called Social Housing, not for profit company becoming a private landord in all but name. Main aim to make as much as possible while doing as little as possible while creating top jobs for top money.
 
Andrew Roche wrote
at 8:58:26 AM on Saturday, March 17, 2018
If they are like Rochdale Boroughwide Housing then their Charitable status is not regulated by the Charities Commission. Salix Homes 'About Us' page is a bit confused about some things, but the say they are an Industrial & Provident Society. It's likely they are a Charitable Community Benefit Society. Their charitable status is, AFAIK, regulated by HMRC.
 
wow wrote
at 1:40:22 AM on Saturday, March 17, 2018
45 million in reserve, surplus profit of 8 mil. Sorry cld someone remind me on its core remit! Social housing your shitting me,this is no different to private rent/Landlords when or private business wrapped up in glorified housing workers tapping away all day on ebay
 
not a happy bunny wrote
at 9:38:56 AM on Friday, March 16, 2018
If I knew what I know now I would never of Voted Salix to be my landlord , when they were campaigning for the yes vote, they were literally licking your ass to get that vote, Four years on you don’t hear of them anymore, If I was to vote again it definitely be a no .
 
Alexis wrote
at 9:38:23 AM on Friday, March 16, 2018
"It would not be in Salix Homes' best interest". They're a social housing provider. Their best interest should be to the tenants and the quality of the buildings Salix manage. Unfortunately as we see time and time again the Labour councils stand idly by while they let housing across the greater manchester region become profit making ventures for all involved. GMHA's demands for "Transparency" will do nothing to tackle this - we must fight against this assumption that housing should only be provided if someone can make money off it. Yet again we see a Labour council whistling and putting its fingers in its ears as they help facilitate the social cleansing of the working class from their constituencies.
 
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