Newcastle City Council’s cabinet has confirmed it will go ahead with proposals to close its ALMO, Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), in the biggest change to council housing in the city for almost two decades.

The changes will see all services currently delivered by YHN on behalf of the council and the people who deliver them become part of the council.

YHN was originally set up in 2004 to access the government’s Decent Homes Fund that councils couldn’t access directly. But, the council says, with the funding no longer available, and with changes to regulations and the sector facing increasing financial challenges, it was time to look at whether it was still right to use a separate organisation to deliver housing services.

YHN’s commercial subsidiary, Abri, is also expected to transfer into the council’s ownership. Services provided by Abri, which will continue to operate, include Newcastle Furniture Service, Palatine Beds and the Ostara 24-hour response and support service for residents who need additional support to live at home.

A consultation with tenants, leaseholders and other local residents found over 80% of respondents supported the proposals to bring YHN into the council. The cabinet considered the responses, along with evidence showing the changes would free up resources that could be used to improve homes and housing services in the city, before making their final decision.

Work on the ‘housing transfer’, which will include a TUPE (transfer of undertakings protection of employment regulations) transfer of all YHN staff who deliver services on behalf of the council will begin immediately and is expected to complete in July 2024.

Councillor Irim Ali, Cabinet Member for a Dynamic City, said: “People are at the heart of everything we do and as a council we want our tenants and leaseholders to receive the best possible services.

“In recent years, we have faced major financial and regulatory changes in the housing sector that mean we need to get more from every pound we spend, so it was vital to consider whether there was a more effective and efficient way to deliver for our residents.

“Bringing all our housing services together, in the council, is an exciting opportunity to reflect on our achievements, identify areas for improvement and create a new housing service that will help us deliver now and in the future.”