To consider a report of the Corporate Director for Place Management & Regeneration.
The report details a proposal from Stockport Homes to establish a charitable subsidiary within the Stockport Homes Group structure.
The Scrutiny Committee is recommended to comment on and note the report.
Officer contact: Andy Kippax on 0161 474 4319 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A representative of the Corporate Director for Place Management & Regeneration and the Chief Executive of Stockport Homes submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) detailing a proposal from Stockport Homes to establish a charitable subsidiary within the Stockport Homes Group structure.
The Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing (Councillor Sheila Bailey) also attended the meeting to respond to councillors’ questions.
The following comments were made/ issues raised:-
· It was commented that the proposal was an excellent idea which had been under consideration for a number of years and would provide the opportunity to bring additional funding into housing in the Borough which would otherwise not be available.
· The costs of running the new charitable subsidiary would be more than covered by the additional funding brought into the organisation. It was further stated that the cost of running the charitable organisation was attributed to existing officers’ time rather any new or additional costs, but had been included within the report to provide an accurate reflection of the projected cost of operating the subsidiary.
· It was queried whether the creation of a new charitable subsidiary would result in the organisation making competing bids for the same funding streams as other housing providers in Stockport who already had charitable operations. In response it was stated that this was not the intention, and that Stockport Homes worked closely with other housing providers in the Stockport Housing Partnership.
· Any surpluses that were created would be reinvested in the charitable organisation.
· It was commented that there were a number of areas of activity that the Council was no longer able to engage in as a result of the ongoing reductions to local authority funding, and the work of Stockport Homes to tackle anti-social behaviour and provide activities for young people was welcomed. It was suggested that any additional activity in this area that might be possible through the operation of a charitable subsidiary would be welcomed.
· Concern was expressed that the Council working in conjunction with Stockport Homes to establish a charitable subsidiary constituted a top-down intervention which would fail to bring capacity to the third sector and which would compete for the same funding. It was suggested that that ultimately this would undermine the value and growth of the sector in Stockport. In response it was stated that Stockport Homes already undertook a number of activities to help and promote charities in the Borough, and the intention in developing a charitable subsidiary was to bring in money that otherwise not be there rather than to compete with existing charitable organisations.
· It was commented that it would be reasonable for the aims of the charitable subsidiary to be widened to make provision for additional support to the third sector.
· It had been identified in the report that there was a risk around the decisions of charitable subsidiary coming into conflict with the policy direction of the Council or Stockport Homes, however there was insufficient detail on how this might be mitigated against.
· Stockport Homes was, in a number of areas, actively working to fill the void being left by reductions in local authority budgets and it was unfortunate that it had become necessary to create a charitable subsidiary, part of whose remit would be to relieve poverty, relieve food poverty and develop digital skills.
· The third sector in Stockport was currently unable to handle the scale of the issues that were facing the Borough and work needed to be done to build additional capacity in this area which would include Stockport Homes helping those organisations to secure funding and the potential use of Stockport Homes’ infrastructure.
· Recruitment to the Board of Trustees for the charitable subsidiary would be by way of an open advertisement.
· The proposed aims of the charitable subsidiary were broadly right and concept was an innovative approach to targeting and assisting some of Stockport Homes’ most disadvantaged customers.
· The proposed governance model seemed robust and should provide a degree of assurance to the scrutiny committee.
· It was commented that the existing successful work of Stockport Homes in going beyond the core remit of a housing provider should provide confidence that the creation of a charitable subsidiary would also be a success.
RESOLVED – That the report be noted.