Croydon Council could face financial penalties if it fails to keep its social housing up to higher standards, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has warned.
City Hall holds the purse strings for billions of pounds of housing development funding, but Mayor Khan has told London’s affordable housing providers – including local authorities like Croydon – that they could lose access to that money if they fail to maintain their properties at the standards tenants deserve.
It is 18 months since the appalling state of many of the flats in council blocks on Regina Road caused a national scandal. Some progress has been made, with several tenants in those blocks in South Norwood being found new accommodation and hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on repairs.
A “decent home” is defined by government as meeting the following four criteria:
- it meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing;
- it is in a reasonable state of repair;
- it has reasonably modern facilities and services; and
- it provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.
Yet since the Regina Road scandal broke, issues around leaks, mould and poor repairs have been identified with other council homes around Croydon, as well as with the speed and delivery of maintenance work by contractors Axis.
There also remain dozens of unoccupied new homes, built by the council’s failed housing developer Brick by Brick, which are unsold or let, even under shared-ownership schemes or with subsidy from Help to Buy. Inside Croydon is aware of mounting numbers of complaints over a poor standard of finish to some BxB properties, and even structural issues with some of the homes.
The Mayor says that Londoners should expect high standards.
He is calling for additional affordable housing funding and reforms from government, such as a commissioner for social housing residents, to drive better conditions.
The Mayor’s warning follows a letter to City Hall’s housing investment partners from the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, Tom Copley, sent at the end of September.
In this letter, Copley set out the actions City Hall will take if the Regulator issues either a non-compliant grade or a Regulatory Notice against a housing provider. Both notices indicate that a provider has breached a consumer or economic regulatory standard.
In extreme circumstances, the GLA may limit access to funding to a specific set of projects, including those already underway, and in the most severe cases withdraw all funding and revoke investment partner status.
The Mayor of London’s £4billion 2021-2026 Affordable Homes Programme already requires higher standards on design, safety and environmental performance for new homes than those funded outside London. The Regulator has a requirement to assure these standards are maintained in the long-term where they exceed the Decent Homes Standard benchmark.
The GLA is also introducing additional scrutiny of the housing maintenance track records, and in the requalification process for partners who have had their investment status restricted.
“Most social housing in London is well-managed and maintained,” Mayor Khan said.
“However, this is unfortunately not always the case and I am determined to use my funding powers to drive up standards in both new build and existing homes.
“London is building some of the most impressive new affordable homes in the country, but it is vital that existing residents experience high standards too.
“I will continue to call on the government to also take responsibility for pushing for higher standards, including by making much-needed additional funding available.
“We owe it to all Londoners to provide better, safer, and fairer housing in the capital.”
Read more: Regina Road repairs are falling short of required standards
Read more: Labour council’s ‘slumlords’ can’t face Regina Road tenants
Read more: This is the stark human cost of the borough going bankrupt
Read more: Investigation finds systemic failure and incompetence in council
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