"Audit Scotland's report into council housing transfers was published today, focusing on those which have taken place since 1998 including Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway and Borders.
Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said:
"This has been a resounding success story for Scotland. As the report makes abundantly clear, tenants are benefiting from higher investment, stable rents, more control and better services."
The key messages of the report (see here) tell a slightly different story:
"13. For the transfers completed before 2004, the Executive's guidance did not provide a good route map.
14. The Scottish Executive and Communities Scotland had a lot of experience of the earlier Scottish Homes transfer programme but council transfers were more complex. The workload proved to be greater than forecast and the first transfers took an average of three-and-a-half years to complete. There were limited incentives to contain the £59 million transaction costs.
15. There were no pilot projects to help the planning and implementation of the first council housing transfers, which included Glasgow with the biggest challenges and therefore a policy priority. The Executive felt that an approach involving pilot projects would have taken years longer and would not be defensible given the requirement for investment to tackle the urgent problems of social housing in Glasgow.
16. Improvements to the process mean that current transfers are expected to complete in just over two years and better financial controls with a clear gateway process are now in place.
17. The Executive did not control the total costs of the major Glasgow transfer using clearly defined gateways with financial limits. At certain key stages of this transfer in 2002 and 2003, it was necessary for the Executive to agree significant financial changes, including £409 million grant to support the business plan of the GHA in its first ten years."
A resounding success story? Perhaps that's why only three councils have completed the process. And why the GHA's plans for community ownership seem to be running into trouble. Never mind, Mr Malcolm 'Pangloss' Chisholm can surely fix it.