Sanctuary Housing – ceilings fall in and nobody cares

Ceiling collapses after two weeks in new Sanctuary house, late 2017

“I was heavily pregnant… had to be the worst thing to happen to me..”

“Sanctuary Housing – UK Leading Provider of Affordable and Social Housing”

poundsignuk

A tax-exempt housing group making £40-50 million per year, fully supported by the government.

See earlier blogs A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing and Housing association complaints – no regulation of service quality!

Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, there’s been increasing mutterings about the horrendous state of UK social housing but still no exposure of large, unregulated, (HCA and “serious detriment”?) rip-off housing associations like Sanctuary.

COME ON MPs AND MEDIA PEOPLE, WHERE ARE YOU? Preoccupied with Brexit, all you MPs? Not sexy enough for you, mainstream journalists? A few of you have scratched the surface this year – WHAT ARE YOU ALL WAITING FOR, ANOTHER GRENFELL? How much longer can you all ignore all this?

Incompetent, totally corrupt, diabolical treatment of vulnerable people, including the elderly and disabled. Over 2000 people in several independent facebook complaint groups, including this one – Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group- Countrywide

The situation has got worse since this summary, from a previous blog in 2014:-

poundsigns1. Illegal and morally questionable practices.
2. Repairs being done very badly, or not at all.
3. Many properties in very bad condition, sometimes unfit for human habitation.
4. Complaints going missing and being ignored.
5. Blatant lying and dishonest manipulation of language in order to deflect complaints.
6. Bullying, harassment and bad treatment of tenants, including the elderly and disabled.
7. Inadequate soundproofing.
8. Bad communication and a lack of consultation with communities.
9. The lowering of service standards as a result of Sanctuary takeovers.
10. Bullying and mismanagement of Sanctuary’s own staff.

 

Other large corporate-style housing groups can be just as bad.  A small sample of recent Sanctuary complaints:-

 

 

Sanctuary Group’s new chairman, PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and corporate Britain

Jonathan Lander and David Bennett of Sanctuary Group

New Chair Jonathan Lander (ex-PwC) and David Bennett, Chief Executive of Sanctuary

As the Sanctuary Housing Facebook page continues to regularly delete large numbers of complaints (many of them serious and long-standing, others complaining of Sanctuary Housing Association’s general incompetence and/or fascist tendencies in one way or another) all appears to be well at the top of the corporate world of Sanctuary Group.

Last month it was announced that Jonathan Lander, a former senior partner with internationally huge accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is the new group Chair. Smiles from Mr. Lander and Chief Executive David Bennett in the press release, it’s all jolly good news. Bennett said: “Sanctuary is known for its exemplary governance (many tenants will be asking what planet he’s on – the organization on the front line is often a total shambles at best) and these new appointments ensure the group board continues to have the skills and experience required to oversee our complex organisation.”

PoundSignUKLander said he was “enthusiastic” about working with Bennett and the board “to deliver customer-focused services that represent real value for money”. There’s a good few thousand elderly, disabled and vulnerable people who are being badly ripped-off (or who have been abused in other ways) by Sanctuary who might have something to say about that last comment. Please see other blogs here for many personal accounts, details and newspaper reports of overcharging, nationwide abuse and neglect, cheating, bullying, lies, bad services, incompetent contractors and substandard properties left to rot for years.

On 2nd October, there was further shuffling at Sanctuary with the appointment of Elwyn Roberts (also ex-PwC) as the new Chair of the Sanctuary Audit Committee. Steve Wood, head of Sanctuary Care resigned the following day, Sanctuary now has him listed as Director of Property.

pwclogoPwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), “independent” auditors to Sanctuary Housing Association and just about every other big company in the UK and America

As can be seen in Sanctuary Group’s financial statement for 2013-2014, PwC are Sanctuary’s independent auditors. Hang on a bit… two ex-PwC men are now at the very top of Sanctuary, Lander having been a senior partner until 2008. Exactly how independent is that? (KPMG, another government-linked massive firm, have since become Sanctuary Group’s auditors… Tim, 2017)

Elwyn Roberts, also ex-PwC, new Chair of Audit Committee

Elwyn Roberts, also ex-PwC, new Chair of Sanctuary’s Audit Committee

PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) is one of the Big Four accountancy firms who between them carry out around 90% of all audits for FTSE 350 companies. They are absolutely massive in the UK (see pwc.co.uk), America and internationally. “In the 2014 financial year, PwC firms provided services to 417 companies in the Fortune Global 500 and 462 in the FT Global 500… For the year ending 30 June 2014, PwC’s gross revenues were US$34 billion, up 6%.” (see pwc.com). However, in 2011 they were heavily criticized by the House of Lords for not drawing attention to the risks that led up to the banking meltdown in 2008:- “It may be that the Big Four carried out their duties properly in the strictly legal sense, but we have to conclude that, in the wider sense, they did not do so.” PwC were particularly singled out for not drawing attention to the risks of the Northern Rock business model.

In 2012, the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) of the UK fined PwC a record £1.4m for “very serious” misconduct  over its audit of JP Morgan Securities. At the time it was the heaviest fine ever given to a professional accountancy firm in the UK. Some comments on the above article:- “Auditors are so conflicted in their relationship with clients it is a joke.”, “Add at least one zero to the fine and it might start to be meaningful.”, “The elites are just letting themselves off… Theft!!”.

Corrupt and wrong, too big, too greedy. And, as revealed in The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven For Fat Cats and Big Business by former tax-inspector Richard Brooks, unlikely to change. When the government (and opposition) considers any change in financial law, it consults PwC as part of the process.

Current questioning of PwC integrity in recent over-estimation of Tesco profits by £250 million 

Or rather a lot in PwC's case

Or rather a lot in PwC’s case

Right now, the integrity of PwC is once again being questioned in an ongoing investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority. “PwC has been Tesco’s auditor for over 30 years. For that service, Tesco paid PwC £10.4m in the last financial year – plus another £3.6m for other consultancy work. Of the 10 directors on the supermarket’s board… two are ex-PwC… Mark Armour, a non-executive director, and Ken Hanna, chair of the company’s own audit committee.”

Sanctuary Group – an exempt registered charity rip-off and everything that is wrong with greedy and hypocritical corporate Britain today

Sanctuary finance director, Craig Moule

Sanctuary finance director, Craig Moule

Sanctuary Group is very fond of telling the world how successful it is, particularly financially. “The 95,000-home landlord has reported one of the highest levels of gearing – borrowing in relation to assets held – in the sector…  ‘in line’ with the landlord’s business plan and treasury policy. The landlord reported a surplus of £42.6m, down from £54.5m, from a turnover of £592.3m and built 1,481 new homes during the year.” (Inside Housing 1.10.14) There had been earlier reports of a £72 million surplus last year but this apparently included assets from the takeover of Cosmopolitan, which I believe have since been discounted. No doubt PwC are doing their job, legitimately or otherwise. (KPMG, another government-linked massive firm, have since become Sanctuary Group’s auditors… Tim, 2017)

SanctuaryGroupThe privitization of housing stock has happened quietly over the last thirty years and more. Large housing associations have become greedy money-making machines. All Sanctuary care about is money and building their property empire, make no mistake. They are right in there at the heart of the government, the financial establishment and even the Church of England. Local councils also seem to be quick to support Sanctuary, rather than those suffering as a result of their countless bad practices – in fact Sanctuary seem to be good at buying off all sorts of people. The publicity machine is often grotesquely dishonest. Sanctuary are a classic example of the amoral screw-you capitalism that has gradually taken hold over the last 10-15 years. They do some good, offer some good services and help some people and communities – one would hope so with the millions of pounds they have and 11,000 staff. However, if more Sanctuary tenants were middle-class – with money to defend themselves (few Sanctuary tenants now qualify for legal aid) and/or with better education and/or more self-respect – Sanctuary would not last 5 minutes. There would be an outrage, as there should be right now.

PoundSignUKTo anyone out there who has been genuinely helped by Sanctuary – great stuff, you might be wondering what the fuss is about. All things considered though, this shambolic, scandalous, useless, uncaring, arrogant, rip-off corporate monstrosity of a company should be shut down immediately.

Fully supported by the government, Sanctuary’s tax-free, registered charity, “business model” stinks. Sanctuary are the lowest of the very low for making massive profits while continuing to abuse and exploit many poor and vulnerable people in our society. 

(Chief Executive David Bennett was made a CBE for services to social housing in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list – an absolute disgrace.)

Housing association complaints – no regulation of service quality!

This updated blog post on housing association complaints is for anyone who has had serious problems with housing association complaints, Sanctuary Housing and Sanctuary Group in particular. For more on serious complaints see also 2016 post A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing and the original 2009 post Are Sanctuary Housing Above The Law? and others here.

If you have had serious problems with Sanctuary Housing or Sanctuary Group, please join the independent facebook group Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide, which has over 800 members (December 2016). It offers support and advice from others who have suffered at the hands of Sanctuary Housing – the incompetence, the frequent breaking of tenancy agreements, the threats, the lies and all the rest of it.

The information below is also relevant for complaints about other sometimes shockingly bad, usually very large, housing associations. Hyde Housing, Affinity Sutton, Metropolitan and Orbit are some that I have heard mentioned.

SanctuaryHousingIf you are reading this, you may already be familiar with the official procedure for housing association complaints, including Sanctuary’s. This consists of firstly trying to sort things out at a local level, then going through the housing association three-stage complaints procedure, then contacting a designated person (MP or local councillor). If all else fails, contact the housing ombudsman. In reality, for a large number of reasons, this process is not working for a very large number of people. The endless bureaucracy can be a complete nightmare and housing associations will often use every trick in the book to avoid taking responsibility for their poor services and sometimes diabolical treatment of vulnerable people.

An attempt to expose Sanctuary Group’s bad practices

poundsignukTowards the end of 2013 (prompted by the news that registered charity Sanctuary had made a “surplus” of £72 million – this was apparently later revised down to £54.5 million, once the acquisition of Cosmopolitan had been taken out of the equation) – I sent out a very carefully-worded physical letter to 34 contacts: Inside Housing, Private Eye, The Guardian, Homes and Communities Agency, 38 Degrees, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Taxpayers Alliance, Shelter, the Public Accounts Committee, two Commons Select Committees, the then Housing Minister Mark Prisk and 11 other MPs. I focused on the following:-

poundsigns1. Illegal and morally questionable practices.
2. Repairs being done very badly, or not at all.
3. Many properties in very bad condition, sometimes unfit for human habitation.
4. Complaints going missing and being ignored.
5. Blatant lying and dishonest manipulation of language in order to deflect complaints.
6. Bullying, harassment and bad treatment of tenants, including the elderly and disabled.
7. Inadequate soundproofing.
8. Bad communication and a lack of consultation with communities.
9. The lowering of service standards as a result of Sanctuary takeovers.
10. Bullying and mismanagement of Sanctuary’s own staff.

Under each category I selected a few quotes from the 500+ comments on the blog Are Sanctuary Housing above the law?. I tried to include (nearly) everyone who had contributed up to that point. Although yet again there was no media interest, I had two lengthy replies, one from the Homes and Communities Agency and one from Margaret Hodge of the government’s influential Public Accounts Committee.

Replies from the Homes And Communities Agency (the social housing regulator, mainly concerned with financial regulation) 

Email: mail@homesandcommunities.co.uk  Website: http://homesandcommunities.co.uk

Postal address: Referrals and Regulatory Enquiries Team, Homes and Communities Agency, 1st Floor, Lateral, 8 City Walk, Leeds LS11 9AT

HACagencyInitially, the following reply gave me some hope:- “Thank you for your letter, sent to the Homes And Communities Agency and other organisations, containing a number of allegations about Sanctuary Housing Association… (We have) now considered the information you have provided and would like to invite you or others who have experienced difficulties to provide us with further information.” Carole Harrison, Referrals and Regulatory Enquiries Team, Homes and Communities Agency, 28.10.13

Several Sanctuary tenants sent extensive details of very serious complaints soon after – they were completely dismissed. On behalf of many tenants and others who have been badly treated by Sanctuary, I decided to have another go myself. In early 2015 I sent a carefully presented 80+ page document with extensive evidence (text, photos and newspaper articles which taken together represented 150+ Sanctuary tenants around the country) of illegal and immoral practices to a number of “authorities” and media. This included quotes from tenant-run Sanctuary facebook groups and detailed evidence of a fraud against the Scottish Housing Regulator by Sanctuary in Scotland.

The second reply from the Homes and Communities Agency was arrogant and completely dismissive. Why did they bother asking for further information if they obviously had no interest whatsoever?

Reply from Margaret Hodge MP and the Public Accounts Committee

Email: pubaccom@parliament.uk  Website: http://www.parliament.uk/pac

Postal address: Committee of Public Accounts, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA

Margaret Hodge

Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the P.A.C. in 2013

“My committee retains a strong interest in how the system of social housing provision as a whole is operating and I am grateful for the information you have provided… thank you for drawing these matters to my attention.” Margaret Hodge then went on to say that “the Homes and Communities Agency does not actively monitor social housing provider performance against, or compliance with, the consumer standards, responsibility for which rests with the Boards of social housing providers” Margaret Hodge, Public Accounts Committee, 6.12.13

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but this is confirmation by the government that following on from the abolition of housing inspectors at the Audit Commission…

THERE IS NOW NO GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF SOCIAL HOUSING FOR THE QUALITY OF SERVICES PROVIDED TO TENANTS.

A selection of June 2016 tenant posts from the 700-strong Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group on facebook

Truth“They are useless! Our house flooded today and none of them wanted to come help!”, “We get a newsletter and it seems to be filled with happy, content tenants. Not sure where they get these people from but it’s certainly not in any Sanctuary house I’ve ever known”, “I am appalled with sanctuary housing! If anyone is offered a house through them avoid at all costs!!…this is beyond a joke and i will make sure everyone is aware of how sanctuary actually treat their tenants!”, “So, adaptations were requested in February for my disabled three year old. They were signed off by sanctuary on March 28th but…. nothing. I’ve been calling for 10 weeks and each time I’m told they will send an urgent email to the housing officer but still nothing. My little girl can’t walk, they knew she was having surgery in March and would be in a wheelchair”, “I feel like I’ve been backed up against a brick wall, the bullying tactics sanctuary use”, “Today I heard that Sanctuary have taken over Housing 21. Why are they still taking more on when they can’t get the stock they have in decent shape?”

The relentless Sanctuary corporate PR machine paints a different picture

OhReallyFrom a June 2016 press release:- “Over 85,000 residents across England and Scotland have benefited from community investment and support from Sanctuary Group during the last financial year. The leading housing and care provider invested £1.55 million in community initiatives during 2015/ 16 to make a difference in communities nationwide. Under five strategic themes – employment, education, skills and training; health and well-being; community safety and infrastructure; environment and financial inclusion – Sanctuary’s investment has helped support more than 600 community initiatives with over 300 community groups…. Another key commitment for the Group is helping to reduce social isolation, particularly amongst vulnerable residents. 830 people have benefited through Sanctuary’s funding in the last year to help address loneliness and create more opportunities for people to feel more connected to their community.”

Why I am still writing blogs about Sanctuary Housing

SanctuaryHousingEven though I wasn’t a Sanctuary tenant myself, I had my life temporarily destroyed by Sanctuary’s useless, uncaring, arrogant and disgusting mismanagement back in 2007 and 2008. Intitially, it was all about an anti-social neighbour and non-existent soundproofing but the main problem soon became the utterly diabolical management of Sanctuary Housing. A total of eight employees (including Chief Executive David Bennett) and other contractors showed themselves up with various SanctuaaryGroupcombinations of incompetence, arrogance, blatant lying, blatant bullying and plain negligence. They lied and lied to our MP and the police, both of whom quickly saw through them. In the meantime, I lost my relationship, my home and almost my sanity. Months later, after threats from Sanctuary managers, I started a blog called Are Sanctuary Housing above the law?  As can be seen there, this company does an awful lot of harm to an awful lot of people. I have worked in supported housing, care homes and homeless hostels myself, so I have a pretty good idea of the difficulties that Sanctuary often have to deal with. They do SOME great work with people and communities, SOME of their properties are as good as the glossy Sanctuary PR pics. But they are also failing large numbers of people in countless ways and regularly trying to cover it up. In my opinion they have simply got too big TimBurnessand too greedy to function properly. Eight years on and with the help of the government and support from the Church of England, they are still expanding their property empire of 95,000 homes whilst badly letting many, many tenants and others down. No-one is stopping Sanctuary, a rogue housing association if ever there was one, or organizations like them.

(Sanctuary’s Chief Executive David Bennett was made a CBE for services to social housing in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list – an absolute disgrace.)

MPs – please stop Sanctuary Housing

If you have had serious problems with Sanctuary Housing or Sanctuary Group, please join the independent facebook group Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide, which has over 800 members (December 2016). It offers support and advice from others who have suffered at the hands of Sanctuary Housing – the incompetence, the frequent breaking of tenancy agreements, the threats, the lies and all the rest of it.

Sanctuary GroupThe uselessness, lies, rudeness, threats, bullying and generally corrupt behaviour of Sanctuary Housing Group (includes Sanctuary Housing Association, Sanctuary Care, Sanctuary Management Services and others) over the last few years are extensively documented in a large number of personal accounts from people across England and Scotland on my previous blog Are Sanctuary Housing above the law? Sanctuary’s unprofessional and excessively corporate behaviour continues to affect many – tenants (including the vulnerable and elderly), relatives, students, property-owning neighbours, their own front line employees, and others. Common complaints are poor maintenance and a lack of repairs to badly neglected homes, “which are now becoming the new slums” as one observant Sanctuary employee put it. (“In local authorities, qualified staff are on hand all the time to give their professional advice, Clerk of Works and their teams. These were lost when the housing stock was taken over by Housing Associations, and their short term financial gain without costing out the total overall running costs of their acquired housing stock. Which are now becoming the new slums.” March 2011) Some examples in the press over the last few months:-

http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Newquay-residents-plea-home-repairs-Sanctuary

http://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/news/mp-highlights-complaints-over-social-housing

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2318800/Royal-Victoria-Hospital-Annexe-Bungling-decorators-left-red-faced-shocking-paint-job.html

In contrast to their neglect of older homes and tenants, Sanctuary is heavily involved in the increasingly controversial Affordable Homes Programme (affordable for whom?), having received £90 million from the government in 2012.

Sanctuary Group is a very big organization, now with 94,000 homes across England and Scotland, and of course some people have positive experiences of them. Also, I know from my own experience that working in areas such as supported housing and care can be difficult. But there is obviously a real and very serious problem with the culture of this organization and the attitudes of some of its staff. Many people’s serious complaints are often ignored and Sanctuary’s behaviour often appears to be completely immoral or worse.

DavidBennett2013

David Bennett, Sanctuary Group Chief Executive

Many people’s lives are being damaged by a registered charity that regularly makes over £20 million profit, that pays its Chief Executive over £280,000, and that pays no tax. It looks like Sanctuary has got too big and too greedy to function properly.

Last week, I read that the group of MPs that monitors the work of the Homes and Communities Agency has launched an inquiry into the regulation of social housing in England. The inquiry will examine the work of the regulation committee since it replaced the previous social housing regulator, the Tenant Services Authority, in April 2012. Unfortunately, as usual, this looks likely to be concerned with financial regulation only. The actual quality of services provided by a large and impersonal housing association such as Sanctuary rarely seems to be questioned or confronted.

Sanctuary Housing

As a result of complaints from constituents, many MPs are now aware of the widespread incompetence and dishonesty of Sanctuary Housing Group. Sanctuary often seem to be more concerned with building their empire through property speculation, rather than looking after tenants, their properties, and their communities. These MPs and others need to fully investigate Sanctuary (and if needs be, other large housing associations too) and declare them unfit for purpose. Current regulation is totally inadequate. This is a scandal.

The MPs pictured here, along with many others, have all either directly experienced problems with Sanctuary through the complaints of constituents, or else are well aware of the general issues with large profit-driven housing associations.

Is there an existing All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) or other Parliamentary Committee that can take this on?

MPs – Robert Goodwill and Ben Bradshaw in particular – PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

Robert Goodwill MP

Robert Goodwill MP

Tim Loughton MP

Tim Loughton MP

Andy Slaughter MP

Andy Slaughter MP

Ben Bradshaw MP

Ben Bradshaw MP

Stephen Gilbert MP

Stephen Gilbert MP

Greg Hands MP

Greg Hands MP

John McDonnell MP

John McDonnell MP

Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP

Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP

Are Sanctuary Housing above the law?

Shadow Justice Minister, Andy Slaughter MP

Also see 2016 blog A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing and 2016 updated Housing association complaints – no regulation of service quality! and others here.

If you have had serious problems with Sanctuary Housing or Sanctuary Group, please join the independent facebook group Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide, which has over 800 members (December 2016). It offers support and advice from others who have suffered at the hands of Sanctuary Housing – the incompetence, the frequent breaking of tenancy agreements, the threats, the lies and all the rest of it.

Sanctuary Group (Sanctuary Housing Association) – a monster that must be stopped. An “exempt” registered charity who often lie, cheat, and bully people, including their own staff. Some services are very poor, repairs are often a bad joke, tenancy agreements are frequently broken by Sanctuary’s incompetence and bad practice. They are largely funded by the taxpayer (housing benefit, the government), tenants include some of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and poor people in Britain. Sanctuary Group (fingers in many pies) makes over £40 million surplus (=profit) every year. The Chief Executive is on £310,000 (and has now been made a CBE – Tim 2015).

In 2012, Sanctuary were awarded £90 million through the government’s Affordable Homes Programme, the highest allocation in England. In the same year in Scotland, they received similar grants of £10 million. The Chief Executive has spoken of “delivery of 5000 homes at a combined capital investment of £750 million over the next four years”. Sanctuary completed its takeover of Cosmopolitan Housing Group in March 2013, creating the UK’s largest social landlord, with 95,000 homes owned and managed.

“A scandal which should be exposed.”
Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith and Shadow Justice Minister, May 2011 – on the performance and unaccountability of large housing associations, at the House of Commons.

“Tenants who pay their rent should be entitled to expect their landlord to address failings in a speedy way, but it looks like Sanctuary is falling well short of that.” Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St. Austell and Newquay in Cornwall, February 2013. “Sanctuary Midlands is letting its customers down… It hasn’t focused on what results it is getting and whether these are effective… The Association needs to do much more to ensure that services perform well.” Ann Bennett, Audit Commission Lead Housing Inspector, April 2010 “One of the worst housing associations I have had to deal with… useless.” Tim Loughton on Sanctuary, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham in Sussex, late 2008.

Sanctuary being an “exempt”  registered charity means that the Charity Commission has no monitoring role whatsoever – it’s a tax break. Not only do they not pay tax, Sanctuary appear to be largely unaccountable to anyone at all. The Audit Commission no longer has housing inspectors. The Homes And Communities Agency, the new social housing regulator since 2012, deals mainly with financial regulation.

Francis Bennion

Prince Philip

Sanctuary Housing Association was originally founded as The World Of Property Housing Trust by influential barrister Francis Bennion (according to his website, Mr. Bennion was still vice-president of Sanctuary until his death in 2015, although I have never seen him mentioned on Sanctuary’s website) in 1968-69. Support came from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Institute of British Architects, several MPs including the then Secretary of State for the Environment Peter Walker, billionaire Paul Getty, many other very rich and very influential people, and big support from Prince Philip and the Queen – including a personal financial donation. Oddly, Sanctuary seem to have kept this rather quiet – all a bit masonic perhaps? The Church of England Pensions Board recently signed a £250,000 contract with Sanctuary Group. Are these apparently strong links to the government and “the Establishment” the reason why no-one will hold Sanctuary to account?

(See 20th August 2011 comment for more info and link – Tim)

If you have a genuine case (whether you are a tenant, relative, student, front line or management employee, property-owning neighbour, or anyone else), please don’t give up. By standing up to Sanctuary Housing Group you are also helping many others in similar situations. Don’t be intimidated by their uselessness, lies, threats, and the problems of getting your voice heard.

DON’T GIVE UP!

Sanctuary head office

Sanctuary Group head office, Sanctuary House, Chamber Court, Castle Street, WORCESTER, WR1 3ZQ

Phone: 01905 334000

Rather than just the above or local-ish offices, impersonal e-mails or call centres, or their long-winded and very very dodgy “Complaints Procedure”, you might have more luck with the following direct Sanctuary Housing Group phone numbers and contacts at Worcester:-

Simon Clark, Group Director – Housing. E-mail: simon.clark@sanctuary-housing.co.uk Direct Dial: 01905 334064 Extension: 34064 Mobile: 07894 599107

Group Director for Housing and Communities, Simon Clark

Direct dial: 01905 334064 Extension: 34064 Mobile: 07894 599107 Email: simon.clark@sanctuary-housing.co.uk Unfortunately, Mr. Clark clearly demonstrated Sanctuary’s now legendary arrogance and state of total denial on BBC television (Inside Out South West, 18.2.13), in relation to Sanctuary’s diabolical treatment of a group of tenants living in homes officially assessed as legally unfit for habitation.

Senior PA to Simon Clark, Claire Griffiths

Direct dial: 01905 334167 Fax: 01905 334956

claire.griffiths@sanctuary-housing.co.uk

Director of Sanctuary Home Care & Extra Care, Donna Culley

Direct dial: 01905 334091 Mobile: 07900 160602
Donna.Culley@sanctuary-housing.co.uk

Assistant to Chief Executive David Bennett, Heidi Hodgkin

Worth knowing her name if you’re trying to make contact with Chief Executive David Bennett, who is based at the Worcester address.

TRY EVERYTHING AND DON’T GIVE UP!

If you have been on the receiving end of Sanctuary’s uselessness/lies/threats – don’t just moan on this blog! GO TO YOUR MP – they are paid to represent you!

Or go to your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.

Or write to your local or national newspaper – FOR THE SAKE OF EVERYONE ELSE – PLEASE DO IT!

Some tenants get results by going to the Housing Ombudsman, but many people’s experience is that they are a waste of time.

BBC WATCHDOG (many, many people have complained about Sanctuary but no interest at all so far – Tim 2015)
Watchdog, W1 NBH 07C, BBC New Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/watchdog/gotastory/
E-mail:
watchdog@bbc.co.uk

BBC PANORAMA
Panorama, Zone D, 4th Floor, BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, UK, W1A 1AA
E-mail: panorama.reply@bbc.co.uk

Here’s a different point of view, expressed anonymously and not altogether convincingly – note the dismissive tone towards vulnerable and disadvantaged people but perhaps he/she is just doing his/her best in a difficult job?

“I’ve worked in complaints on and off for 30 years and let me make something clear to you, 7/10 people make stuff up or get it totally wrong hence their complaints are never upheld.

How about releasing the results of 20k of sanctuary residents from last year on how they view the service? The results were that the majority were satisfied with Sanctuary in many areas polled. 92 on this blog versus 20,000 – YOU DECIDE. If you are going to blog, at least be open minded and impartial.”

A “majority” in “many areas”, this is a bit vague isn’t it? And Sanctuary has over 70,000 tenants (95,000 since the takeover of Cosmopolitan in 2013, Tim), what about the other 50,000? Yes, people only have to read through a few posts here to make up their own minds about Sanctuary, no doubt about that. Obviously the posts on this blog are not the whole story – that’s probably even worse!

In 2009-10, according to page 18 of their annual report, not-for-profit charity Sanctuary Group made a “surplus” (i.e. profit) of £23.8 million. During 2010-11, profits went up to £24.7 million. Since the takeover of Cosmopolitan, profits have soared to £72 million for the year 2012-13.

Legally, no tax is paid on this.

Much of the multi-million pound profit comes from the government and the taxpayer in the form of housing benefit from some of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and poor people in Britain.

In 2009, with the help of Barclays Capital hedge fund, Sanctuary issued £200 million pounds of bonds. These were secured against the group’s rented housing. In April 2012, a further £300 million pounds of bonds were issued. Not-for-profit casino banking anyone?

Original post:-

There may be one or two people out there who wondered what happened to the devastating noise disturbance situation my ex-partner and I were going through in 2007 and 2008.

Eventually the housing association concerned moved their tenant out (The second crazy teenage anti-social behaviour nightmare in two years – we were attacked and threatened on our doorstep, with loud screaming and swearing at all hours, amongst other things. There was a hint that the tenant had previously had an ASBO, we never found out for sure…), they properly sound-proofed the flat below ours, and their unfortunate local manager moved on. My ex is now being treated with the respect that any innocent member of the public deserves. She does actually own her flat after all!

It took five visits to our local MP Tim Loughton, a few ridiculous meetings with Sanctuary Housing, and well over twenty letters to Sanctuary and various other organizations (eventually including the now defunct Housing Corporation, West Sussex Supporting People, and the head of local police) before they took us and several of our neighbours seriously. The police and the local council were reluctant to get involved, although they were helpful at times, especially the supportive but ultimately powerless PCSOs. “It’s not a police matter”, we were repeatedly told. The Environmental Health recorder didn’t get results. No-one seemed to be seriously bothered about the stinking “skunk” cannabis, we wouldn’t have minded ourselves if they’d kept their windows closed.

For over a year, Sanctuary Housing’s behaviour was astonishing:- blatant bullying tactics, lies, dishonest back-covering and incompetence by several managers (fortunately we had evidence of this – you really should be ashamed of yourselves local manager Peter Jackson, Sanctuary Supported Housing head Tim Susans and regional manager Wendy Fletcher, what were you doing? Astrid Kjellberg-Obst and Steve Wood of Sanctuary Care Limited, is all this okay with you?), local and national offices ignoring many of our letters including a very reasonable one sent through their complaints procedure, contradictions and lack of clarity about what the law actually was on more than one occasion, written false representations of what we had written to make it mean the opposite i.e. outrageously manipulative lies, the back-tracking on their original offer of sound-proofing, the accusation that we had not been co-operating with West Sussex Mediation Services – when in fact they themselves were preventing this from proceeding by not returning the mediation people’s phone calls.

Presumably they thought they could bully us into shutting up? It was obvious there was a real long-term problem but they preferred to try and make us look unreasonable for daring to complain. In the meantime my partner had serious depression, migraine headaches and I virtually had a nervous breakdown both before and after moving out. Both of us had problems at work due to exhaustion and ultimately our relationship itself did not survive the nightmare. The neighbours across the road, a lovely friendly retired elderly couple, were extremely upset by their complaints not being taken seriously.

“Sanctuary Housing? Oh no!”, said a nurse friend of mine when I told her about all this. “They kept ignoring several serious complaints and sending us threatening letters when I was in their student accommodation in Brighton. Being a student nurse was hard enough already, the university had to get involved on our behalf, it was a nightmare”. So much for Sanctuary Management Services, their student branch. We and our MP couldn’t help wondering how many other people up and down the country have been on the receiving end of Sanctuary Housing Group’s grotesque and morally bankrupt unprofessionalism. And just plain indifference.

On their website, Sanctuary Housing describe themselves as “An industry leading social enterprise helping to set standards across the entire sector” (They’ve since dropped this headline but the attitude is still there, TB). In his patronizing, clueless and ill-informed letter of denial TO OUR MP, boss Chief Executive David Bennett couldn’t even be bothered to get our address right, apparently confusing us with a Sanctuary property in Berkshire.

David Bennett, Sanctuary Chief Executive, now a CBE

According to an article from The Guardian in September 2003, the Chief Executive of this “not-for-profit” organization was at that time receiving over £200,000 per year from tax-payers money.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2003/sep/24/

(According to another national newspaper 25.9.09, as head of this exempt charity, Chief Executive David Bennett is unbelievably now on £288,000. A social housing fat cat, the equivalent of a greedy banker. He is third on the list in this article:-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1215947/

£288,000 for someone who, in his letter to our MP, showed himself and Sanctuary up as totally incompetent and arrogant!? September 2010 update – he’s now on £285,446. September 2013, £310,000. He was made a CBE in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list – an absolute disgrace.)

Former Group Chair, Nick Baldwin

The money is obviously rolling in as they expand their “not-for-profit” empire, around 80,000 (95,000 since March 2013) homes making them the biggest Registered Social Landlord (RSL) in the country. Thanks for sorting out our situation in the end Sanctuary, but our life together was destroyed in the meantime.

Yes, all the above is actually true! No full apology or explanation was ever offered. Useless. Uncaring. Arrogant. Disgusting.

Read more of this post