Croydon has pledged major improvements to its housing services including giving council residents a much greater say in how they are run, after fully accepting the findings of an independent investigation it commissioned to look into unacceptable conditions in some of its properties.
The council is drawing up a programme of improvement works to make its housing services fit for purpose and will set up a Housing Improvement Board to oversee this work.
The board, which will include council resident representatives and an independent chair, will hold regular meetings in public and examine the council’s housing services, both in terms of resident satisfaction and overall performance.
Existing vacancies and skills gaps are being addressed immediately to boost service delivery across housing departments, and two new specialist teams will be set up to improve both investment in housing stock and performance including repairs, complaints handling and contract management.
Last month the council commissioned ARK consultancy to look into what caused some of its residents to be living in appalling conditions in water-damaged flats in Regina Road, South Norwood.
A report of the investigation’s findings recommends fundamental changes to our housing services after highlighting concerns about the experience of some council residents.
The council has already addressed the immediate issues at these Regina Road flats, including finding new homes for the affected residents in three flats, fixing the water leak that had caused widespread damage and checking on neighbouring properties.
It has also carried out a full building safety inspection, has met directly with residents and offered to support them to set up a tenants’ representative group.
More widely, repairs and complaints procedures are being reviewed and improved as a priority, and precautionary checks of all high-rise blocks have begun.
The council has pledged wider improvements across its housing services, and is in the process of appointing an interim senior housing director to deliver the improvement plan.
“ARK’s report raises some very concerning issues about our housing services, and on behalf of the whole council I apologise to the residents who we’ve let down.
“We fully accept the report’s findings, and although we have taken urgent steps to address immediate issues highlighted at Regina Road, it is clear we must do much more to improve things for all our residents.
“We are totally resolved to addressing the issues found by the investigators and changing the experiences of our council residents as quickly as we can. As a result, we are now in the process of beginning a much wider-reaching improvement programme that will transform housing services across the board so that they are fit for purpose.
“This will be much more than repairing bricks and mortar; we must, most importantly, also repair our relationship with our council residents, build back their trust and make sure they are listened to and heard as we make these changes.
“We will also give our council residents a much greater say and involvement in how their housing services are run so that, together, we can be sure they are receiving the well-run quality services that they deserve and that meet their needs.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council
The ARK report will be discussed at the council’s next cabinet meeting on 17 May and is published on the council website.