The ARCH Executive has decided to commission ARP
Research to carry out a comprehensive survey of members' views on
what ARCH is for and what services they need and want from ARCH, to
help shape a new vision for the organization, a refreshed and
improved offer to member councils, and a business plan for the next
two to five years.
At the start
of August all members will be asked to complete an on-line survey
covering what they think of the services ARCH provides, where there
is room for improvement and what the organisation's future
priorities should be. Views will also be sought on the current
subscription and how far ARCH provides value for money. Survey
returns will be followed up by telephone interviews with a sample
of members, including both officers and elected members. Views will
also be sought from other stakeholders, including ex-members of
ARCH and stock-retaining councils which have not yet joined.
Results will be pulled together in a report to the ARCH AGM in
London on 22 September.
nearly a decade ago when a handful of councils got together to
campaign to end the second class status of stock-retaining councils
compared with ALMOs and stock-transfer housing associations. The
campaign soon found a focus around the demand for an end to the
housing subsidy system and the introduction of self-financing. As
the campaign gained momentum ARCH membership grew, numbering over
60 councils by the time self-financing was eventually introduced in
the landscape in which councils work has changed and new challenges
have emerged. Councils have suffered drastic cuts in Government
support, causing an unrelenting search for savings and new sources
of revenue. Welfare reform is forcing fundamental changes in
housing management and approaches to rent collection.
Self-financing has provided most councils with the resources they
need to meet the investment needs of the existing stock, but, in
parallel, national attention has come increasingly to focus on the
role of councils in meeting the urgent need for more new homes,
both by building new council homes and enabling the building of new
homes for sale and rent by others.
ARCH membership has remained more or less static. New members have
joined but some existing members have decided, for various reasons,
not to renew their subscriptions. This highlights a need for ARCH
to refresh and improve its offer as councils' needs and priorities
change. ARCH's original focus was on lobbying for policy reform.
With the battle for self-financing substantially won, how far
should the focus now shift to helping them make the most of the
opportunities it provides? Which of the services ARCH provides to
its members are most valued and what can be done to improve them?
What additional services might members want to see? What would do
most to attract new members?
with a General
Election looming, ARCH also needs to identify the key policy
demands that can command support across its diverse membership and
decide on an effective campaign for them to be accepted by all the
main political parties. On all these questions there is no better
way to understand what members want than to ask. We are hoping that
all members will take the time to respond to both the survey and,
if approached, a telephone interview. The more members respond, the
better we will understand what ARCH needs to do next?