What Labour has done wrong
Labour has failed to listen to tenants and failed to manage the housing repairs contract properly, leaving residents waiting months for serious repairs, like leaks and thick mould, to be dealt with. Labour has ignored complaints made to their housing service, leaving residents to live in such squalor that an independent report found the failing Labour Council to be a slum landlord. Croydon’s Labour Councillors have shown disrespect and utter indifference to the pleas from residents repeatedly raising their serious concerns about damp, disrepairs and infestations. Click here to see just one example.
Over the past eight years Labour has overseen a shocking decline in the housing service which this Council gives to its tenants and leaseholders. Complaints have risen but many have been ignored and tenants have been treated with utter disrespect. Families have been left to live in damp, mould-ridden and infested homes which make them and their children sick. This is completely unacceptable.
A year on from the ARK Report, the independently chaired Housing Improvement Board has found that not much has changed with no noticeable improvement in services for tenants; a complete lack of pace and a lack of any timetable to fix the service. The Board say that not enough has been accomplished and that not one of the “immediate actions” identified in the ARK Report has been completed. They say in their March 2022 report that they have heard from many tenants that they struggle to make the Council take issues seriously, they do not feel respected or taken seriously and that they have heard about some examples of shocking rudeness and inhumanity. In a recent Council survey 90 per cent of tenants made negative comments about the Council. 69 per cent said their experience of the Council housing services is poor, very poor or average. This is a completely unacceptable situation.
What would we do differently
I grew up in a Council house in Hamsey Green, I know how important it is that our social housing stock is properly maintained and our tenants are listened to. Over the past 8 years this has not happened in Croydon and Croydon Housing Services are now in a terrible state. As Mayor, I want to do things differently. I have already pledged to sign the Council up to the Tenant’s Charter – written by tenants for tenants. This will put residents at the heart and front of decisions about their housing services. I will bring forward a new repairs service and manage it properly, ensuring that tenants are treated with the respect they are entitled to. I will establish a dedicated Housing Complaints process which is easy to navigate – and is swift in responding to issues and complaints.
This disgraceful decline in the housing service has to stop. As Mayor I want to turn this around and provide a housing service which we can be proud of - which provides warm, dry and safe homes for residents to live in. I want residents to be proud of where they live in Croydon. To do this I will:
- Put residents at the forefront of the decisions made in their housing services by adopting the Tenants Charter
- Get some pace and timetabling in place for the much-needed service improvements
- Push Axis to deliver the service they are paid for during the remainder of their contract
- By working closely with tenants, I will ensure the new housing repairs contract arrangements are value for money and are right for Croydon
- Tackle the unacceptably long void times and bring homes back into use for families to move into as quickly as possible
- Ensure that we have a fit for purpose and easy to navigate complaints process
- I will attend Estate walkabouts with senior councillors and housing officers and give tenants the opportunity to share their concerns directly with me
- Give stability to our Housing service and ensure that Council officers have what they need to deliver a really good service in a timely and respectful way
- Be honest in letting residents know about the scale of improvement needed and that it will take years to bring about and fully entrench
- Strengthen the Housing Improvement Plan so that it better reflects our determination to get on with improving the service; ensuring that the new legislative requirements under the White Paper and Building Safety Bill are built into the data framework; and shifting the organisational culture to one that empathises with the experience of tenants
- Treat the radical transformation in the management of Croydon’s housing stock and the experience of tenants as a corporate issue by:
- recognising the importance and contribution of other Council services, such as waste collection and neighbourhood cleansing and
- having a more open and respectful relationship with tenants and residents of the council’s stock; better oversight and governance by Members; effective contract management; effective financial management both of day to day spending and capital; and improvements in workforce and digital
- Start building Council homes again