‘Deeply shocking’ report shows council’s ‘serious failure’

The pressure increased on Hamida Ali, the leader of Croydon Council, as the Town Hall’s pay-masters, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, issued a statement today in response to the notice issued by the Social Housing Regulator which said they “expect council leaders to take full responsibility” for maintaining decent living standards in council homes.

The damp and mould in a Croydon Council flat in South Norwood in 2021. ‘No tenant should have to endure such conditions,’ says MHCLG

MHCLG didn’t say whether their forthright condemnation today also applied to past council leaders, and their deputies, such as Tony Newman and Alison Butler, who for six years was in charge of council housing.

Croydon Council’s fate is inextricably bound up with Whitehall officials for the foreseeable future. It is only two months ago that MHCLG rubber-stamped a financial recovery package for cash-strapped Croydon, agreeing a £120million rescue package for the bankrupt borough. Government-appointed officials now have to approve every financial decision being made at Fisher’s Folly.

And following today’s notice of standard breaches by the Social Housing Regulator – a quango overseen by MHCLG – there will be more inspectors checking on how Croydon fixes the scandalous condition of its council housing, as was exposed by ITV News reports from the mould-ridden, flooded flats in Regina Road.

A source at the MHCLG’s Marsham Street offices told Inside Croydon, “No tenant should have to endure such poor living conditions and poor service from their landlord. By law all landlords must ensure properties are fit for people to live in and all registered providers must meet standards set by the Regulator of Social Housing.”

Hamida Ali and Tony Newman: leaders are expected ‘to take full responsibility’ for the state of council homes

The notice issued against Croydon Council today is not a common occurrence. The Social Housing Regulator issued just six such notices in 2018-2019, and 15 findings of breach and serious detriment in 2019-2020.

In an official statement issued in response to the Regulator’s notice, an MHCLG spokesperson said, “The breaches identified in this case are deeply shocking and the Regulator’s decision demonstrates a serious and unacceptable failure at Croydon Council.

“We expect council leaders to take full responsibility and put in place immediate steps to ensure tenants are properly supported and housing is of a safe and decent standard.”

And Chris Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South, did not miss the opportunity to seek to score political points at the expense of the Labour-run council.

“This report lays bare Labour’s shameful neglect of council tenants in Croydon,” Philp said.

MP Chris Philp: ‘shameful neglect’

“They left vulnerable tenants living in squalor in damp and mould-infested flats and ignored residents’ desperate pleas for help.

“They bankrupted our town, left residents living in third world conditions and tried to concrete over every inch of green space they can find. The sooner we can remove this dreadful Labour regime from office the better.”

At the time of publication, there had been no public comment on the Social Housing Regulator’s notice from Croydon’s two Labour MPs, Steve Reed OBE, the shadow cabinet member for local government, nor Sarah Jones, who until a year ago had been her party’s housing shadow.

The MHCLG has been working for some time on a review of the housing health and safety rating system, as well as drafting a Charter for Social Housing Residents, “to protect and empower tenants”.

But it clearly isn’t a priority for the Conservative government, with the Ministry saying, “We will introduce legislation to introduce proactive consumer regulation as soon as Parliamentary time allows.”

Read more: ‘None of the tenants in Croydon trust anybody in the council’
Read more: Ali accused of cover-up over findings on council flats scandal
Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to ‘Deeply shocking’ report shows council’s ‘serious failure’

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    “No tenant should have to endure such poor living conditions and poor service from their landlord. By law all landlords must ensure properties are fit for people to live in and all registered providers must meet standards set by the Regulator of Social Housing.”
    Yes one has to fully agree with that. Except clearly they do not. It is not only Social housing landlords who fail it is also private landlords who fail. What is scary is that many vulnerable people are at the mercy of social and private landlords (some also paid by taxpayers housing benefit) who care little about their tenants – one is too busy saving money the other is too busy making as much as they can.
    However what is most disturbing is that the people in a position to implement the laws in place not only fail to implement or enforce them both won’t and can’t but they have in this case joined in the abuse. Despite their being Council executives on 6 figure salaries there are also heads of Environmental Health and those responsible for landlord Licensing, Ombudsmen, Regulators of local Government the MHCLG itself and Members of Parliament. Then there is the law itself which in many cases appears unworkable and the Courts that are inaccessible to those in need.
    To paraphrase Winston ” Never have the few of a vulnerable minority been failed and abandoned by the self serving many” – What a shocking society this has turned out to be!

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