Peabody Family Voice, the tenants’ action group opposed to the Family Mosaic amalgamation with Peabody, have scored media hits with their January 26th press release, posted below.
Peabody’s current rush to corporatise is a far cry from its charitable and social programme when the Camberwell Green Estate in S London, see picture, was built in 1911.
Tenants call for halt to Peabody and Family Mosaic amalgamation
Peabody Family Voice (PFV), a new group of Peabody and Family Mosaic tenants and residents (1) has written today to Brendan Sarsfield, Chief Executive of the merged Peabody group (2), opposing plans for amalgamation of the two housing associations.
Like other social housing tenants, many Peabody and Family Mosaic tenants feel that their poor housing conditions are ignored, and they are treated as second class citizens (3). The formation of PFV is part of a new trend in the housing crisis, as tenants of housing associations are becoming organised.
Peabody Family Voice’s statement (4) argues that amalgamation will exacerbate the trend away from the values of social housing, and worsen problems with services that tenants face (5, 8). These problems include:
- disastrous performance of the repairs and maintenance service, which amount to systematic neglect, due to outsourcing and centralisation; an extreme example was involving a severely disabled tenant was reported recently in the Islington Tribune (6)
- lack of direct communication with staff, due to the remote centralised call centre.
- constant turnover of staff, so tenants have no consistent relationship with anyone in the housing association.
The letter to Brendan Sarsfield argues for decentralisation and localisation of staff and services.
Peabody Family Voice is also extremely concerned by the trend towards increasing commercialisation of housing associations, and the weakening of their commitment to social housing. This trend is evident from the statistics of new properties built by the leading housing associations in London (7): only a few percent are for genuine social rent, with the large majority being either for market rent or sale, shared ownership or ‘affordable’ rent, which is out of the reach of most social tenants.
We are very concerned that, under the 2016 Housing Act, housing associations will raise rents towards market rents, which will destroy the lives of tenants. We oppose the selling-off of existing properties deemed ‘uneconomic’, and the extension of the right to buy. We insist that the housing associations support the traditional values of social housing and oppose the Government’s attempts to destroy them. We note that very similar arguments have been made by tenants and residents of Genesis and NHH housing associations, who are opposing the merger of the two (8).
Charles Smith, a Family Mosaic tenant, said: “Like many tenants, I have suffered over decades from the appalling performance of the repairs service, which amounts to systematic neglect. But the problem has got worse as the housing association has got bigger and become more interested in property development than its social tenants.”
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call David King, 07854 256040 for further information.
Notes for editors
- The new group, Peabody Family Voice, is a union of Peabody and Family Mosaic tenants and residents. The group was launched in January and began to come together after a consultation meeting organised by Peabody in late November, at which the anger of tenants and residents about the failure of the repairs and maintenance service and other issues was extremely palpable. The letter to Brendan Sarsfield is appended below.
- Peabody and Family Mosaic merged in July 2017 to create the Peabody group, of which Brendan Sarsfield is the Chief Executive. The two housing associations are now conducting consultation about amalgamation to create a single housing association, which will be called Peabody.
- According to the results of a poll recently conducted by Shelter, which is launching a new commission to lobby the government over social housing, 48% of families in social housing were ignored or refused help with unsafe or poor conditions (http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/01/shelter-launches-social-housing-commission).
- The founding statement can be found at pfvoice.org.uk.
- The letter to Brendan Sarsfield cites evidence from the takeover of CBHA, a Walthamstow housing association, by Peabody, showing that by all measures of satisfaction, tenants of the smaller local housing association were much happier than Peabody residents with the services they were provided with.
- On January 12, the Islington Tribune reported that a woman with cerebral palsy had been left by Family Mosaic in a flat with severe rising damp.
- See http://g15london.org.uk/about-us/g15-in-numbers/.