A “defining moment for our sector”? Let’s hope so.

By Richard Medley · 27 January 2023

 

The tragic death of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak has once again highlighted major failings in our sector. How did this happen?  Where has it all gone wrong?

Providing good quality homes that everyone would be proud to live in is what we are supposed to do. But we don’t seem to be doing it very well. The good news is that we’ve already seen widespread action across the sector and agreement that we need real change.

But where should we start?

The Housing Ombudsman’s Spotlight report of October 2021 is an excellent place to begin. It provides the basis for a fundamental review of what and how we do things in relation to damp and mould, but with a broader applicability. The report is structured so you can use its suggested practice and recommendations as the basis for a self-assessment.

The aim should be to turn our sector’s traditional approach to dealing with damp and mould issues on its head. We need to shift our focus to prevention, by proactively identifying ‘at risk’ properties and taking the action needed. If problems occur, we need to resolve them straightaway.

However, to address our sector’s failings, we need to look beyond damp and mould or else we are in danger of tackling the symptom rather than the cause.

I would start with culture, attitudes, skills, and professionalism. We need to build teams that are full of people with a ‘can-do’ attitude. Teams who respect and have empathy for others, and who have the skills, knowledge, and experience to do the right things.

We also need to understand our stock of properties and our tenants much better. It simply isn’t good enough not to know what the condition of each of our homes is. Or to be unaware that our tenants are struggling to maintain their tenancy or health and wellbeing.

This isn’t something that can be addressed through stock condition surveys alone. We need active housing management, with everyone pulling together as one team. We must understand the full picture and put in place a clear plan and agreed priorities to address the housing quality issues our tenants face. Everyone – including Boards and councillors – need to be closer to the ground, truly understanding what it is like to live in our homes and neighbourhoods.

If this is truly to be the “defining moment for our sector”, then we need to agree that, in too many cases, the quality of the homes we provide isn’t good enough. The recently published Better Social Housing Review sets out to help us bring about the step-change needed through its key recommendations. We all need to act on these, and quickly.

At ARK Consultancy, we work with many housing providers to help them provide good quality homes through effective asset management, using data and insight to inform investment plans. If you wish to learn more on this matter or would like to speak to an expert on how we could support your organisation call us today on 0121 515 3831.

Richard Medley

Associate Director

Richard is a knowledgeable and respected senior housing & business professional with a wide variety of experience in consultancy and management. Richard has a proven track record in areas of repairs, maintenance, asset management and neighbourhood management. Richard has a strong commercial acumen, with a sound understanding of how to secure reliable income streams coupled with robust cost management and effective risk management.

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