William Eichler 24 May 2022

Gove criticises social housing landlord after ‘severe maladministration’ finding

Gove criticises social housing landlord after ‘severe maladministration’ finding image
Image: Adam J/Shutterstock.com.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, has criticised England's largest social housing landlord after an investigation found the housing body was guilty of ‘severe maladministration’.

Clarion Housing Group, which manages 125,000 properties across 170 councils, is under investigation after one resident suffered extensive disruptions to her water supply, leaks, mould, damp, delayed repairs and a rodent infestation.

Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway concluded earlier this month that in this specific case Clarion was guilty of ‘severe maladministration’ and said that ‘similar issues which may be indicative of repeated failure’ had been found and so the investigation would be extended further.

Mr Gove has written to Clarion to say that he is ‘deeply disappointed’ that the housing association has not met ‘fundamental standards’ for tenants.

In response to the Ombudsman’s report, Clarion accepted they had been ‘too slow to act’ in the specific case where there was a ‘severe maladministration’ finding. However, they said that the issues were ‘exacerbated’ by the resident who refused Clarion staff entrance to the property.

They also said that they were disappointed by the Ombudsman’s decision to extend the investigation.

‘Clarion’s processes have changed substantially since the case published today by the Ombudsman was resolved. We have provided extensive information to the Ombudsman regarding the progress we have made on pest control, specific vulnerabilities and tackling damp and mould in the homes of our residents,’ the housing association said.

‘We are disappointed by the public comments about a “wider investigation” today and will be writing privately to the ombudsman on these issues. Most importantly, Clarion is determined to continue to drive improvements in the service we provide all our residents.’

In his letter to Clarion, Mr Gove criticised what he described as the housing association’s ‘defensive response’ and said their focus should be on ‘putting things right and learning lessons’.

In response to Mr Gove, Clare Miller, group chief executive of Clarion Housing Group said: 'As chief executive of Clarion Housing Group, I will never shirk our responsibility to provide and maintain good quality homes.

'We have not got every decision right as an organisation, but we are making good progress and recently published a detailed update on the actions we have taken to significantly improve our service*.

'There is no quick fix to the housing crisis and the UK has some of the oldest housing stock in the world. As a charitable organisation, we will continue do all we can to meet this challenge and we hope the government will work with us on our common goals.'

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