Written evidence submitted by Caseworker of Justin Madders MP [RSH 018]
I am submitting evidence in my role as Senior Constituency Caseworker for Justin Madders MP.
Since 2015, Housing has been consistently a frequent issue raised with Justin via the constituency office and just shy of 1000 cases have been raised which are specific to social housing (this figure is likely to be higher as the categorisation of cases was not standard at the beginning of Justin’s time in office).
The issues that are frequently raised relate to damp and mould, delays with repairs being addressed, properties let with outstanding repair work, boiler breakages and general disrepair to bathrooms and kitchens in need of renewal. The issues are common and it is rare to go a day in the office where a handful of cases are not related to disrepair suggesting that the issues are widespread.
While we are not privy to the resources of Social Housing Providers, cuts to social housing rents undoubtedly has had an impact however, there are also issues with repeat visits to repair issues either due to insufficient information being given to the work operative as to how many personel are needed to repair the issue or due to parts being needed. Often there seems to be a lack of discretion when it comes to parts and so instead of a part being sourced locally at speed, we regularly see people awaiting boiler repairs for a number of days.
From our perspective, there appears to be a gap in regulation and while the Housing Onbudsman has a purpose, often tenants are deflated and opt not to use this route. We find that tenants are often exacerbated by the time they contact us due to repeat missed appointments or having to speak with a call centre who are often out of area. This hinders the ability of tenants to resolve their issues, a closer relationship being housing offers and repairs could help with this. As an MPs office, we have never received contact with the Regulator of Social Housing and largely do not know what they do or how they can help our constituents.
While the Housing Ombudsman’s recent work on damp and mould is welcome, how much this actually changes the situation is questionable. However, any increase in powers to either the regulator of the Housing Ombudsman must be matched with the funding social housing landlords have to rectify the issues they see with their housing stock.