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ARCH annual report

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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

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The future of ARCH – we want your views Matthew Warburton - 21/07/2014

Online_survey_300The 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.

 

ARCH began 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 March 2012.

 

Since then 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.

 

Since 2012, 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?

 

That said, 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?

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