One fifth of Council Housing stock not fit for purpose

On the 5th June, 2017 a report to the East Kent Housing (EKH) board (page 99) made it explicitly clear that  “the level of non-decent homes currently stood at around 21- 22%.” Why did it take all four Councils, who own EKH, two more years to report themselves to the appropriate regulator?

On the 11th Sept 2019, The Regulator of Social Housing handed down a critical report of Folkestone & Hythe District Council and how it has failed to look after and manage its social housing stock.

The regulator has concluded that:

  • a) Folkestone & Hythe DC has breached the Home standard; and

  • b) As a consequence of this breach, there was the potential for serious detriment to Folkestone & Hythe DC tenants.

The regulator will work with Folkestone & Hythe DC as it seeks to remedy this breach and will continue to consider what further action should be taken, including whether to exercise any of its powers.

The Homes standard makes it clear that:

The minimum standard requires:

  • The property must be free of Category 1 hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

  • It must be in a reasonable state of repair.

  • It must have reasonably modern facilities and services.

  • It must provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

A property could fail the Decent Homes Standard if, for example, there is persistent damp, an electrical system in poor condition, an inadequate bathroom or kitchen, or it is too cold.

Local authorities have a duty to take enforcement action in relation to category 1 hazards and discretion to act in relation to category 2 hazards. It is clear from the 12th Dec 2016 (page 114) minutes of the East Kent Housing Board; which former Cllr David Owen attended, there were significant issues with electrical safety which fall under the category 1 and category 2 hazards.

It doesn’t stop there. Five months earlier on the 18th July, 2016 East Kent Housing board minutes (page 54) – a meeting former Cllr Dick Pascoe was supposed to attend but did not – reflect that they had only “partial” compliance with Legionella safety.

On the 5th June, 2017 a report to the East Kent Housing board (page 99) made it explicitly clear that the  the level of non-decent homes currently stood at around 21- 22%. So approximately 3,850 of the 17,500 homes owned by all four councils and managed by East Kent Housing were not fit for purpose, were not decent and did not comply with the Homes Standard. To give that context, F&HDC have 3,393 Council homes. Yet not one Council chose to self report to the appropriate body when over one fifth of the stock was not fit for purpose. Surely East Kent Housing tenants and leaseholders deserve an explanation.

Most if not all the issues raised in Appendix 3: Audit report for East Kent Housing (EKH) – tenant health and safety have been outstanding issues for a considerable amount of time as the minutes of the East Kent Housing board demonstrate.

Tenants and leaseholders have been paying rent and service charges to live in a sub standard homes provided by our Council and managed by East Kent Housing. How have EKH and F&HDC recklessly abandoned their responsibility to leaseholders and tenants in such a blatant fashion? They are NOT second class citizens.

Two years on and the Regulator of Social Housing hands down a judgement which should have been handed down much much sooner in our opinion.

In 2018/19 F&HDC paid EKH nearly £2 million from the Housing Revenue Account to manage our Council’s 3,393 homes. In August 2019 F&HDC buy a Castle for £3 million. Do our Council have the priorities straight?

Priest & Upton

Deborah Upton Chief Exec of East Kent Housing (pictured background) has been in charge since April 2016. Many if not all the issues – Gas Safety, Electrical Safety, Legionella, Lifts and Asbestos  were raised at board meetings – attended by Folkestone & Hythe District Conservative Cllrs – and little if anything was done to rectify them. However, it is not just East Kent Housing failures that should be focused on. Our Councils, Canterbury, Dover Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils must shoulder some of the responsibility as well, The minutes which have been in the public domain for a short while, clearly show that our Council’s Conservative Cllrs who sat on the board, either chose not to inform the Council of the goings on of the board, or they did and the Council did nothing about the highlighted failings. Either way it demonstrates that neither Dr Susan Priest Head of Paid Service of F & HDC (pictured foreground) & Deborah Upton are fit for purpose. It is time they both step down as they have put tenants lives at risk unnecessarily, and for a considerable amount of time.

The Shepwayvox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

About shepwayvox (1801 Articles)
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3 Comments on One fifth of Council Housing stock not fit for purpose

  1. A Folkestone EKH Tenant // September 13, 2019 at 15:44 // Reply

    As an EKH Tenant I am glad the Shepwayvox Team are informing me of the shenanigans East Kent Housing and our Council are up to, or rather not up to.

    I feel anxious and concerned because those who are responsible for my home, and the building, are failing to communicate with me and the rest of the tenants about these failing which so many of us have reported. Keep up the good work.

  2. doggerbank56 // September 13, 2019 at 17:00 // Reply

    It is quite clear that this is a very weak local authority both in terms of its leadership and management. What is really shocking however is the total lack of concern for the residents who occupy these houses and flats. It is as if the residents are out of sight and out of mind. Has anyone from East Kent Housing or Folkestone & Hythe District Council issued any form of apology to the residents and if not why not? If they have not got the message yet it may be necessary to up the ante. Thanks again to Shepway Vox for bringing this to light,

  3. And what will happen to these “top dogs”? Now’t accept a capped payoff and another job somewhere else. Perhaps the EKH Board might find the balls to sack Upton, as for Priest being sacked by her Council, fat chance. They are equally culpable.

    And don’t get me started on Pascoe, Ewart James, Owen & Godfrey. Bring back the stocks…

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