ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt reports on the horrendous conditions residents were forced to live in, including black mould and damp in Croydon council houses
Croydon council’s housing department operated with “a poor operating culture with a lack of care and respect for tenants” resulting in accommodation being left in terrible conditions, a damning report has concluded.
An independent report into the failings of Croydon council has found they put the health of residents at risk through a lack of competence and care.
Senior managers at the council were described as not knowing what was going on and that tenants had been complaining since 2017 but their complaint were left "unresolved".
Mushrooms were found growing on a wall in Riziki Lugole's home, which he lives in with his wife and children
The report by the Ark Consultancy follows an ITV News investigation that revealed the horrendous conditions Croydon residents were forced to live in, including black mould and damp.
The report's key findings:
a lack of capacity and competence;
a poor operating culture with a lack of care and respect for tenants;
systemic problems in how the Council communicates and deals with tenants’concerns and complaints;
weak performance management meaning senior managers do not appear to knowwhat is going on; and
poor use of data and ‘intelligence’ by the Council and its contractors.
Croydon Council leader Hamida Ali says she finds it 'shocking' that tenants' housing complaints were ignored by her council
Ark went on: "The Council’s staff do not appear to understand their role in delivering even basic ‘core’ housing services effectively.
"There is little emphasis on gaining professional skills or qualifications within the housing service. Recruitment and retention issues means that an increasing proportion of staff lack the experience and skills needed.
"Training and development opportunities to upskill staff have been limited."
It was found that an undiagnosed water leak went undiagnosed in 1-87 Regina Road, South Norwood, for four years.
Due to the failure to find the fault, it grew from a minor defect into a major problem that "presented a risk to the health and safety and significantly impacted the quality of life of residents".
Staff repeatedly failed in their care of duty, with the report finding that all tenants were stigmatised and "seen as less worthy of respect".
A new board will be put in place with an independent chair and representatives from tenants.
In response to the report, the council have pledged to make major improvements within housing, adding that they have already worked to address issues at the Regina Road flats, while the most-affected residents have been rehoused.
Leader of the council, Hamida Ali, said: “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.”