THE firm in charge of council houses in Basildon could be scrapped, less than four years after being set up.

St Georges Community Housing was created by Basildon Council in April 2007 to run the district’s 12,000 council homes, because the firm could bid for large-scale funds not available to the authority.

It cost about £1million to set up and £380,000 a year of taxpayers’ money to run.

However, Government proposals to allow local authorities to access their own funding to improve council houses mean its future is under review.

Andrew Baggott, councillor in charge of St Georges, said: “In reality this is a choice between keeping the arms length management operation and bringing the management of the housing service back in-house.

“What is most important is we review the options and consider what is best for our tenants and leaseholders and the residents of the district to ensure we are offering value for money.”

A St Georges employee, who would not be named, said: “We think it’s a done deal and the council wants to take back St Georges for financial savings.

“As usual, the council is strong-arming us. We’re moving back to the Basildon Centre and now it is reviewing our future.

“It’s always a mystery with the council. One minute you’re a council employee and the next you’re a St Georges employee. We are worried about our jobs.”

The review and consultation of tenants will cost around £90,000.

If it is agreed to axe St Georges the council will regain control of the homes by next July.

Although it has cost the council significant sums to set up and run St Georges, a spokesman added: “This should be remembered in the context that it has brought in £15million of decent homes funding that would not have otherwise been available.”

The revelation is the latest in a string of embarrassing events for St Georges, including clashes with the council, missing out on a two-star grading needed to get funding, and moving out of the council offices to rented accommodation, only to consider returning to save cash.

Out of a bid to the Govern- ment for at least £142million – needed to brings its stock up to a national decent homes standard – it has so far only secured £15million.

It is not yet clear if it will get any more as part of the Government’s spending review.