Sunday, July 30, 2023

Is it about time we broke up these "mega monopolies" housing associations?


L&Q is headquartered in Newham and is also one of the largest UNISON "shops" in my branch. So I have had a fair amount of contact (and sometimes conflict) with L&Q over the years. 

Check out this "Inside Housing" Report on Friday. I won't comment on the horrendous specifics and strongly believe that all large Housing Association bosses are thinking this weekend about L&Q "there but for the grace of God"...but isn't it about time we  consider whether these mega housing associations are just too large, too bureaucratic, too  unaccountable and should be broken up? 

Mind you I am convinced that the failure of the Government to properly fund the development of new social housing is equally to blame (making housing associations forget they are landlords and not just developers)

The Week in Housing: L&Q in the spotlight

Good afternoon.

This week, the Housing Ombudsman issued its highest-ever single set of fines – totalling £142,000 to be paid to more than 100 tenants – as it published an excoriating report into L&Q, the giant housing association.

The report, which we cover here, paints a deeply troubling picture of a failure in landlord services affecting hundreds, if not thousands, of residents.

Michael Gove, the housing secretary, has now summoned Fiona Fletcher-Smith, the landlord’s chief executive, to a meeting, telling her she has “failed your residents”.

And a sharp reminder of the potential consequences of poor repairs was also delivered by a coroner. A report was sent to the association regarding the death, through hypothermia, of a tenant who was waiting for a boiler repair.

Of course, long-term readers will know there is history here. In the 2010s, as housing associations diversified into market sale development and raised more private finance than ever before, L&Q soared above its peers.

It posted the biggest surpluses, secured debt at the lowest prices, promised the biggest development and took on the hardest regeneration schemes. It seemed to be the A-student, the shining example for what housing associations could be with good corporate management.

But beneath this surface, there were always problems – a steady drip of stories from tenants and leaseholders about disrepair, service charges and complaints going unanswered.

To read the rest of the Week in Housing newsletter, sign up here".  

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