Today Ealing Times is covering the great news that the “Decent Homes” funding Ealing was due to get next year has been preserved from possible cuts. The following year’s funding will have to wait on the next Comprehensive Spending Review. It seems that the Ealing Times don’t know that Ealing Homes is wholly owned by Ealing Council. This “ALMO” is an innovation, and an overhead, forced on councils by central government.
This money is great but the way it is dispensed is typical of what is wrong with this government’s approach to local government. Ring-fenced pools of money are doled out by Whitehall civil servants. Lots of officers’ time is wasted writing bids to get the cash. Whitehall employs rows of civil servants to evaluate the bids. In this case the bureaucracy overhead was made worse by the invention of a whole new class of quango – the ALMO. In a sane world councils would be given one grant and left to get on with raising any extra cash they need to deliver local priorities.