All Change at CBHA?
Unite members at CBHA (formerly Community Based Housing Association) are about to be consulted over major changes that the parent association, Peabody, wishes to make to the way the organisation is run.
The staff at the small association which operates exclusively in Waltham Forest, have yet to receive details of the proposed changes, although Peabody is already in the process of consulting around 5,000 tenants. This has meant that staff are forced to hear second hand what Peabody has in store for them, rather than hard facts properly presented by the Peabody management!
Tenants have already voiced serious concerns about the proposed changes, which could remove the CBHA tenant board. Instead, governance would be centralised and decisions taken by the main Peabody board. Resident and tenant input would be via the Scrutiny Panel which would have no more than adivsory status. The changes could also affect the way services are delivered, and uncertainty surrounds the future of the dedicated drop-in support centres currently available to tenants.
The rationale offered by Peabody for these changes has been a desire to simplify governance and create more efficient structures. Instead, tenants fear that it will reduce service quality. A group of organisers have pointed out that CBHA is well run, financially healthy, and with an excellent track record on performance. On the latter point, they have compiled a table comparing key performance statistics from the two organisations. These include:
- 87% of CBHA residents were satisfied with the overall general needs service they received, compared to 74% at Peabody;
- 97% of CBHA residents were satisfied with the quality of completed repairs, compared to 79% at Peabody; and
- 100% of CBHA residents were satisfied with the handling of anti-social behaviour cases, compared to 59% at Peabody.
In all of the key performance measures, CBHA performed better, and residents believe that these results show what can be achieved when service providers are locally based and accountable to tenants and residents. They disagree that service provision would be more efficient or effective if run from a remote corporate centre.
The Peabody Group, which now encompasses Gallions as well as CBHA and Peabody Enterprises Limited, owns and manages over 27,000 properties. Tenant and resident organisers have made the point that the Peabody board will not be able to devote much attention to the small corner of its empire which CBHA represents, with just 1,600 units.
The organisers have called on tenants to lobby local ward councillors and MPs to protect the small association from being swallowed up by the giant provider. To keep up to date with developments, tenants can access the tenant campaign Facebook page here.
The Unite Housing Workers branch is supporting members at the association and will continue to report on developments through this website and our own Facebook page here.