• Dr Chan Abraham

WHEN LEADERS FAIL THE PEOPLE


Shocking reports from ITV News and My London highlighted unhappy residents at Clarion housing association’s Eastfields Estate in Merton, south London, with images showing vermin infestations and widespread disrepair. In many cases, residents had to wait long periods for issues to be rectified by the landlord, including one family who had lived for eight months without lights on the top floor of their home. It appears the regulator of social housing (RSH) was reluctant to investigate - the chief executive of Clarion also is the RSH's former director of governance and regulation. Nevertheless, an investigation appears to have taken place and the inevitable outcome is reported: the powerful bureaucrats are cleared by powerful bureaucrats.


It appears the regulator of social housing (RSH) was reluctant to investigate - the chief executive of Clarion also is the RSH's former director of governance and regulation. Nevertheless, an investigation appears to have taken place and the inevitable outcome is reported: the powerful bureaucrats are cleared by powerful bureaucrats.

The social housing sector is dominated by one press entity (Inside Housing) who reported the following on 12 August 2021:


Clarion, which owns and manages around 125,000 homes across the country, referred itself to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) after the report aired in June.

ITV News and My London spoke to unhappy residents at Clarion’s Eastfields Estate in Merton, south London, with images showing vermin infestations and widespread disrepair. In many cases, residents had to wait long periods for issues to be rectified by the landlord, including one family who had lived for eight months without lights on the top floor of their home.


At the time, the landlord apologised to residents and admitted its service “had not been to the standard that we would like”.


Minister Luke Hall later revealed in parliament that the RSH was “considering information received from Clarion Housing Association about the Eastfields Estate” with a view to deciding “whether there is evidence of systemic failure that would indicate a breach of regulatory standards”.


In an unusual statement, the RSH said: “We received a referral from Clarion Housing Association in relation to homes on its Eastfields Estate in Merton.

“While there were clearly individual repairs issues which required resolution, our investigation did not find evidence of systemic or organisational failure which indicates a breach of the consumer standards.”


This is troubling. The RSH finds no "evidence of systemic or organisational failure", despite extensive evidence of Clarion's failings towards tenants, their health, safety and their homes; of a system that has not responded in a proper, courteous, timely manner to tenants' pleas for help. This is an organisation that has systemically failed for the past five years, where people have been put at risk and lived in dreadful conditions. The fact that they refused to attend a public meeting with tenants because the press would be present is indicative of the questionable business practices at work here.


Reports emerged in April 2021 that the RSH wrote to a group of councillors in Tower Hamlets, east London to inform them that the probe following Councillors raising a series of concerns about Clarion’s service on repairs, complaints handling and engagement with vulnerable tenants , which lasted around five months, did not find that the 125,000-home landlord breached its consumer standards.


But in a 13-page letter, seen by Inside Housing, the RSH said: “From the information we considered, we could see there were individual incidents of service failures, including in relation to Clarion’s handling of some complaints, but we have not seen evidence of systemic failings by Clarion which would necessitate regulatory action.”


Meanwhile people are at risk; and the RSH's role in this, noting that Clarion's chief executive is also the RSH's former director of governance and regulation, must be requiring Parliamentary and media scrutiny?

So there now have been two "investigations" by the RSH into extensive reports of widespread failure by this gigantic bureacracy. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence, the RSH summarily dismisses the lived experience of the people on Clarion's estates. Without a morsel of sympathy for them, the RSH concludes that the shocking revelations in two large areas of Clarion's housing portfolio, though separated by geography and occurring over a long period of time were "individual incidents of service failures" and "clearly individual repairs issues which required resolution".


In another case, where the links between people, past relationships and the present did not exist, these findings would be viewed as systemic failures of governance and therefore of regulation. There would be regulatory downgrades. Resignations. New directors. But not here; who knows what the fallout might be?


In another case, where the links between people, past relationships and the present did not exist, these findings would be viewed as systemic failures of governance and therefore of regulation. There would be regulatory downgrades. Resignations. New directors. But not here; who knows what the fallout might be?

It must only be a matter of time before more whistleblowers emerge.


Meanwhile people are at risk; and the RSH's role in this, noting again that Clarion's chief executive is also the RSH's former director of governance and regulation, must be requiring Parliamentary and media scrutiny.

1 view0 comments