The squalid and inhuman conditions that Croydon Council tenants, many with young children, were forced to endure on Regina Road, South Norwood, has forced the government to announce a wholesale review of training and qualifications for those working in social housing.
The government announced the move this week, saying it is an effort to improve standards and to ensure landlords are equipped to deal with tenant complaints. It is less than reassuring about the standards of some of those working in social housing that the government has named its project a “professionalisation review”.
Following reports by ITV News on the damp and mouldy flats in blocks on Regina Road, a report by independent consultants found that the council and its repair contractors, Axis, had failed “to deliver even basic ‘core’ housing services effectively… potentially symptomatic of poor performance across the council’s housing service”.
Among the report’s key findings, it said there was “a poor operating culture with a lack of care and respect for tenants”, that there are senior managers at the council “who do not appear to know what is going on”, and “a lack of capacity and competence” in the council’s housing department.
The latest English Housing Survey report shows that nearly two-thirds of social housing residents who complained were not happy with the response to their complaint.
The Social Housing Professionalisation Review will, according to the InsideHousing website, “explore the qualifications currently available for staff, and consider whether any additional training is needed to improve services to residents”.
The review is expected to be included in reforms to social housing that will be brought forward in the Social Housing Regulation Bill, which is expected in March.
The Bill includes proposals set out in the Social Housing White Paper that was published in November 2020.
InsideHousing reports, “In the White Paper, the government promised a review of all training and development for social housing staff, including management staff. It said that this would be informed by a working group made up of landlords, professional bodies and academics, which would explore the relevance of current standards.”
Surveys carried out by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities found that thousands of social housing residents felt that their landlords were failing to treat them with respect and courtesy – echoing key findings of Croydon’s independent consultants last year.
Perhaps it is a measure of quite how bad the conditions in some social housing has been allowed to become that the professionalisation review was announced by the minister who is supposedly responsible for homelessness and rough sleeping.
MP Eddie Hughes said, “Too many social housing residents have told me they feel like they are not listened to or treated with respect – raising complaints time and time again only for the problems not to be fixed.
“This needs to stop. This review announced today will drive up the standard of services received by residents, making sure their concerns are taken seriously and they have somewhere safe to live.”
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