Deaths, incompetence and lies – the multimillion pound housing associations destroying lives

UK’s housing associations made record operating profits of £3.5 billion in 2017

Change must happen, this is madness.

Housing organizations with charity status are badly damaging thousands of people’s lives.

Some great work is still being done by large UK housing associations but they are now too big and too greedy to function properly. They are accountable to no-one, the regulators are a joke and have been for years. In one way or another, many thousands (most likely tens or hundreds of thousands of people) are being shat on.

This is a crisis and the government is doing nothing. 

Post-Grenfell, the government published a social housing Green Paper in August 2018, which suggested many moves in the right direction. So far, almost none of this has been translated into action.

The mainstream media are not reporting it.

Apart from a few articles here and there (others below), the mainstream media continues to ignore how bad things now are with large housing associations and their outsourced companies, even after the Grenfell Tower social housing tragedy. The big housebuilding HAs have become property developers with a lot of old and crumbling anti-social housing on the side.

New Landlords From Hell, Dispatches Channel 4, March 2019

Link to programme https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/69156-001

Sanctuary Group, £198 million operating profit and in the region of £3 billion assets

Many social housing campaigners thought that a breakthrough moment may finally have come with the shocking evidence against Sanctuary Housing (one of the biggest and worst) presented on Dispatches, Channel 4, 22nd March 2019. Please see for yourself how bad things have got or search for easily found video clips. Sanctuary Housing Group continue to describe themselves as “One of the UK’s leading providers of housing, care and commercial services…” Leading providers? 

Immediately after the programme, Sanctuary Chief Executive Craig Moule’s responded to the allegation that Sanctuary appeared to have played a part in both the death of a pensioner and the development of a severe respiratory condition in a baby. “When anyone calls our values into question, it hurts.” Values!? This is about people’s lives.

Sanctuary Chief Executive Craig Moule, in denial and on over £350,000 per year

Without any reference to people’s considerable suffering (cases in Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, Cornwall and Aberdeen), Moule then went on to laughably attempt to discredit the programme makers. “It struck us how little the programme makers knew about how housing associations work. It also struck us that they seemed to misunderstand our purpose.” Yet he made no effort to explain what he means by this, let alone present any evidence to support his view. Unfortunately, many folk in the Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide (2300+ members) can immediately recognize this style of communication from Sanctuary Housing. Clueless, dishonest and completely lacking in compassion. Come on Craig and Sanctuary, what’s wrong with you? Do you actually want to appear inhuman!?

Astonishingly, the Regulator of Social Housing found ‘no breaches of standards’ by Sanctuary (Inside Housing, 26.6.19). The shameless denial, corruption and establishment cover-up is breathtaking. 

Patricia Gavighan, died after 11-day boiler repair wait

Pensioner dies in freezing home

A ‘stressed, angry and cold’ pensioner died of a heart attack following an 11-day wait for her boiler to be repaired, an inquest has heard. Patricia Gavaghan, 80, died at her home, which was maintained by Morgan Sindall, in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, on 22 December 2017. She asked a call handler at the firm if she was “meant to sit in her coat” and wait, the court was told. At the time there was an amber weather warning due to a prolonged cold spell. The hearing at Huntingdon Law Courts was told Mrs Gavaghan lived alone in Sycamore Road, in a bungalow owned by Clarion Housing and maintained by Morgan Sindall. Her family claimed the boiler system was more than 15 years old and engineers struggled to get parts to make repairs.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-49743535

There is a growing independent facebook complaints group for Clarion tenants (1700+ members) Clarion Tenants Support Group

5-year old girl dies in broken lift

Alexys Brown, died in a broken lift

“Two companies have been fined a total of £1.5m following the death of a five-year-old girl in a disability lift. Alexys Brown died in hospital after putting her head through a broken screen in the lift at her home in Weymouth on 13 August 2015. Synergy Housing (a subsidiary of Aster Group), her family’s landlord, was fined £1m and lift company Orona Ltd was fined £533,000. Both firms pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations by failing to maintain the lift properly. At the end of the two-day hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Stephen Climie described Alexys as “beautiful” and “priceless” and said no words of the court could ever compensate her family for their loss.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-46874763

Undiscovered dead bodies in sheltered accommodation

“Two dead bodies are claimed to have lain undiscovered in a retirement scheme for months, sparking complaints about “callous” cuts to care support. Neighbours have urged Suffolk County Council to reinstate funding for wardens and sheltered accommodation following the tragedies at Mussidan Place in Woodbridge, which is owned by Flagship Housing. The latest body was found on August 8 after a neighbour noticed the man’s kitchen was infested with flies. Residents believe he had lain there since June, when they first complained about a bad smell. They said they were shocked by the death – but it was not the first to go unnoticed. Another body was found in February. Neighbours said the dead man’s relative told them it had been there since November last year. They said the bodies would have been found sooner if not for budget cuts stripping away wardens who used to check up on residents.https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/flagship-housing-residents-in-woodbridge-criticise-sheltered-housing-cuts-after-two-deaths-1-6226463

Ceilings collapse in housing association properties around the country, warnings ignored

L&Q tenant’s ceiling collapsed on the morning of his daughter’s birthday – six weeks after first raising the issue and warning this would happen

Record surplus for 2017-18 of £348 million

All over England, this is increasingly common amongst the corporate profit-driven housing associations. This month with L&Q, for example https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/housing-complaints-goodmayes-london-quadrant-1-6326741 Inside Housing also reported on this, although they chose not to show the collapsed ceiling but instead, a lovely shiny picture of L&Q offices.

Places For People, £184.5 million operating profit 2017-18

Ceilings fall in with Places For People in Bristol

In May 2018, after having called out the Places For People maintenance team more than thirty times in four years, the ceiling caved in on a support worker and her family in Bristol.

Elderly residents left for 7 months with no ceiling in Ely housing block run by Sanctuary Housing

Elderly residents left with no ceiling for seven months

I’ve previously blogged about Sanctuary tenants having ceilings collapse in on them and this continues. Early this year, the Ely Standard in Cambridge reported:- Ceiling that came crashing down in Ely sheltered housing block for the elderly still hasn’t been repaired SEVEN months on.

Charlie Bissett, whose 92-year-old mother-in-law lives there: “This is completely unacceptable for elderly residents and they are all worried about it. The fire alarm has been going off constantly too – which is quite dangerous for safety purposes because they don’t know when to leave for a fire or not.”

But if so many large housing associations really are this bad, we’d all know about it by now, wouldn’t we? How about the Peabody Trust, a well-respected name in the world of charitable housing groups, originally founded in the 1860s?

Here’s a few reviews on Trustpilot “Peabody is a joke of a company.” “One star is way too much to rate this” “Shameful. Dreadful to deal with, just a constant loop of them lying that they will take action and come back to you… Do not deal with this company if you can avoid it.” “Unresponsive and disorganized housing association.” “Dreadful customer service and no accountability.” “Hopeless.

“A picture of what our kitchen wall has looked like for about a year.”

The complaints are much the same from all tenants across the whole sector. Mould and rat-infested properties, bad or non-existent repairs and maintenance, staff who don’t listen, fire alarms not working, destruction of tenants’ property, charges for services not done, inappropriate eviction threats, breaking of data protection laws, general incompetence, lies, lies and more lies

Hyde Housing More of the same in their 2200+ open residents group – Hyde Housing Independent Resident Group

Notting Hill Genesis. Riverside. Catalyst.

They’re all at it, across the whole sector and across the whole country.

Neither government nor media are seriously bothered about these companies shitting on people who are often vulnerable or elderly or disadvantaged in some way – not forgetting the many housing association tenants and their families who, relatively speaking, are none of these. Well done to a couple of MPs who’ve spoken out in Parliament but where are the rest of you? A very large number of you know all about this.

Change must happen. Regulate them – maybe break the big ones up? Even more radically, a bit more general honesty and kindness by groups like Sanctuary would be a good start.

If you are in a position to do so in any way, please spread the word, cheers.

Sanctuary Housing exposed – Dispatches Channel 4, 25th March 2019, 8pm

“Datshiane Navanayagam reveals the shocking conditions that tenants of one of Britain’s biggest social landlords are being forced to live in. A year-long investigation finds that Sanctuary Housing left family homes in disrepair and uncovers evidence that this had a critical impact on the health of some of their most vulnerable tenants. As the housing association has grown, official channels of complaint have failed to force it to act reasonably, leaving residents feeling voiceless. In desperation they’ve turned to social media to share their experiences and offer support. Dispatches asks: are housing associations the new landlords from hell?
Cast & Crew
Reporter Datshiane Navanayagam
Director Lionel Mill
Producer Lionel Mill
Producer Kate Mead

The above taken from online Radio Times

Many of us have been campaigning to expose Sanctuary Housing for 10 years. WELL DONE and THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone involved in the making of this programme.

Earlier blogs

2017 blog Sanctuary Housing – ceilings fall in and nobody cares

2016 blog A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing

2014 (updated 2016) blog Housing regulation complaints – no regulation of service quality!

2014 Sanctuary’s neglect of the elderly and vulnerable

2013 MPs – please stop Sanctuary Housing

2009 (updated 2016) Are Sanctuary Housing above the law?

Facebook group (2000 members), help and support for all those struggling with this terrible company:-

Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide

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, (existing regulation is a bad joke) rip-off housing associations like Sanctuary.

COME ON MPs AND MEDIA PEOPLE, WHERE ARE YOU? Preoccupied with Brexit, all you MPs? (A few spoke out in a newspaper article earlier this year, no action since) Not sexy enough for you, mainstream journalists? (A few have scratched the surface this year, well done Channel 4 Dispatches on lack of regulation, full marks to John Harris for articles in The Guardian but why no follow-ups since?) WHAT ARE YOU ALL WAITING FOR, ANOTHER GRENFELL, OR SOMETHING SIMILAR? With current government policy, the problem is not going to go away. How much longer can you all ignore this?

August 2018 update: Social housing Green Paper published. Nice words, the government has to look like they’re doing something after the Grenfell tragedy. Unfortunately and predictably, absolutely nothing about the required large-scale building of genuinely affordable homes. Will the proposals in the paper lead to REAL ACTION TO STOP THE ROT with rogue social landlords like Sanctuary? There are massive systemic problems caused by, amongst other things, government neglect for many years. Incompetent and often diabolical treatment of vulnerable people, including the elderly and disabled, is common. Some recent media coverage of rip-off profit-driven housing associations – another Channel 4 Dispatches (Getting Rich from the Housing Crisis) featured Hyde Housing in July and there was a recent piece in the Observer featuring L&Q (London and Quadrant) – Raw sewage, no water – but service costs still rise for L&Q tenants

Two CBEs on the Sanctuary Group Board

Sanctuary Chief Executive, David Bennett. £356K CBE (retired in January 2019)

Chair of Group Housing Committee, Trudi Elliott, CBE

 

There are over 2000 people across several independent Sanctuary Housing facebook complaint groups. There are 1600 in the most active (and closed) group. Help and support for anyone struggling with this terrible company – Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide

Hyde Housing is another staggeringly incompetent and corrupt housing group – nearly 1800 in the residents open facebook complaints group – Hyde Housing Independent Resident Group

More pictures of a collapsed ceiling recently posted in another fb group (one young woman and a 4 year old living in the home) this time for Riverside Housing AssociationRiverside Housing Association / Evolve Complaints, Comments and Suggestions

Plenty of serious complaints on the Peabody housing association fb page too – Peabody

Social housing – particularly when owned by large housing associations – appears to be collapsing. Sometimes literally. These organizations are too big, too greedy and frequently inhuman. My summary of Sanctuary bad practice, from a 2014 previous blog of mine seems to cover most of it:-

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.

 

A small sample of recent Sanctuary complaints:-

 

 
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