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 – 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:-

 

 

A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing

Sanctuary

Time to expose this relentlessly appalling organization and others like it.

See 2019 blog Deaths, incompetence and lies – the multimillion pound housing associations destroying lives

It’s now 2016 and as you can see below, Sanctuary Housing are still up to their tricks. There is no effective regulation stopping them, so they can keep getting away with it – the likes of the Homes and Communities Agency and the Housing Ombudsman have no serious interest in complaints. This is a nationwide corporate rip-off scandal (so far almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media) if ever there was one. I have heard that some of the other large housing groups can be just as bad e.g. Hyde Housing, Affinity Sutton, Metropolitan and others. Perhaps all part of the Conservative government’s long-term plans to privatise social housing? Run it all into the ground and bring in non-affordable affordable homes and more private landlords to save the day? And generally make the housing crisis worse? In the meantime people are suffering – big time.

If you have had serious problems with Sanctuary Housing or Sanctuary Group, please join the independent facebook group, from which the edited posts here are taken. 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. (To Sanctuary staff who genuinely do their best, keep up the good work. I know from my own experience that it’s not an easy area to work in.) The group now has over 600 members:-

Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide (over 800 members as at December 2016)

poundsignukSince I first came across them in 2008, it has become obvious that thousands of people (including the elderly and vulnerable) have had their lives ruined by this frequently uncaring and incompetent organization. Unbelievably, Sanctuary is a registered charity – so they don’t pay tax. Even more unbelievably, Chief Executive David Bennett was made a CBE for services to social housing in 2015. Given the Sanctuary performance shown below, perhaps he is now due for a knighthood?

Sanctuary Group Executive.David Bennett FCA, CCMI, Group Chief Executive.For Sanctuary Group

Sanctuary Chief Executive, David Bennett. £340K and a CBE in 2015 – for THIS!? (see below)

Sanctuary Group make millions. For the year 2013-2014, the landlord reported a surplus of £42.6 million. (Inside Housing 1.10.14)

In one way or another, thousands of people in their 100,000 homes are being shafted by this company. Do everything you can, an e-mail to Watchdog achieves nothing by itself. Go through their complaints procedure until you are completely satisfied, or write to your MP and make sure they follow it through, contact local and national media with detailed documentation, go to Citizens Advice, Environmental Health, local councillors. Try to stay calm and strong, you are not alone! Demand that Sanctuary stop causing you and others so much suffering. Please do it people, don’t let them bully you.

Here is the link to the facebook group again:- Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide

A typical complaint on Twitter

A typical complaint on Twitter

A SMALL SAMPLE OF COMPLAINTS FROM JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2016

“We beat them once in court, now winning again. They are only interested in their bank balance not our children’s safety”

“I was waiting 12 years (in the end I gave up and moved out) and they blamed me for breathing moisture/being in flat all day….I worked 65 hours a week so how did they figure that out! They are now charging me for repairs as it was “my fault”. If the damp issues were my fault, why do almost all Sanctuary properties have problem with damp and my new home that I’ve lived in for a year now doesn’t?…..funny that x”

“Still no hot water as a tiny piece of metal had pierced the hot water pipe when it went bang… Communication was rubbish the whole time me having to chase them all this while having a 3 yr old..wouldn’t even put us in a bnb!! Sanctuary housing do not care.”

“Yesterday I found out I may need my entire ground floor digging up and replacing because there may not be a membrane down or it could have corroded. Also had to call them back because despite new parts on my hot water tank, the hot water is off and still turning on all night because something isn’t doing its job properly. The boiler was serviced a few weeks ago too and had a new seal but now it’s making a whistling tune when it fires up. Very nice, but I worry about carbon monoxide because I’ve been poisoned before. I don’t need to worry about something that should be working properly.”

“I went 13 months before they decided to replace my boiler and then they only did it as my health visitor phoned them!”

“This is the worst housing association. I have been without water for 4 days which they don’t think it’s an emergency. I call burst pipes emergency not only that they have put charges on the rent an extra few quid a week coz they planted a few flowers somewhere. I say somewhere coz nobody as seen them and they charge for window cleaning and I’ve lived here for 3 years and not once have anyone come round to clean them how are they getting away with treating people like this it’s a f***ing joke.”

“Anyone know a contact for these useless people regarding a compensation claim? I’ve called 3 times and keep being told to call the repairs dept……”

Twitter3“Yeah we have damp in every room in this house especially up stairs we also have plaster dust in the house everywhere in every room all over in all the carpets and I mean absolutely everywhere, in and on everything even in the house wee have all been breathing it in for the last 10 YEARS and we all have infections from it and it’s been here for ten years.”

“So have become a sanctuary tenant after a mutual exchange.. Wish I hadn’t bothered!! What a waste of time totally incompetent company. It’s been a farce from start to finish! Really annoyed at the amount of repairs that need doing that they fail to acknowledge. Yet are quick to inform me that if I dare to install an electric shower, at my cost, they will have to inspect it to make sure it’s done properly and looks nice.. Yet the bathroom it’s going into is really old, with blown tiles hanging off and massive chips out of the bath.. But that’s ok?? F***ing idiots.”

“Sanctuary has served eviction notice on a mum with 2 young children. Heartless and shocking. Calls itself a charity. Calls itself Sanctuary. Oh and it’s jobsworths being pedantic…. We have contacted Sanctuary Housing, local MP and submitted homeless application with council. Looks like they will be sent to a B&B. Sanctuary have been awful.”

“Apparently Sanctuary believe this is not something that needs addressing as soon as possible, despite 2 young children and myself living in this with asthma…”

“Apparently sanctuary believe this is not something that needs addressing as soon a possible dispite 2 young children and my self living in this with asthma …. I don’t know what to say I’m upset and angered by there lack of help… I won’t give up I just hate it when they put pressure on you and try to make you look like an idiot … I’m not that clued up on everything to know what’s what. This place is tearing me apart I literally sit there and cry because no one seems to do anything and how this place is practically falling to bits around me and I can’t get out. I’m already in touch with the mp and it doesn’t sound like there is much he can do from what he said … I will ask about the windows …. to top it off we have storage heaters too so it is unbelievably expensive …. we have many other issues with this place too … it’s like a living hell

 “Good luck getting anything done with them… go straight to your mp … honestly we have been fighting for so long and nothing has been done it’s not worth the stress just place a complaint and maintenance request over the phone and keep all of the reference numbers logged down in a diary and take them to your mp or local housing office. It’s really not worth our time to go through sanctuary. They simply couldn’t care less about any of their tenants or their own contracts.
investor

Are Sanctuary Housing above the law?

Shadow Justice Minister, Andy Slaughter MP

Also see 2019 blog Deaths, incompetence and lies – the multimillion pound housing associations destroying lives 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) 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.

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