Saturday, 01 November 2014

Wardens call to deputy PM

Sheltered housing residents have written to the deputy prime minister asking him to bring back live-in wardens throughout the country.

Campaign group Sheltered Housing UK wrote to Nick Clegg following a pre-election interview with Inside Housing in which he said residents should be able to vote on whether to keep a live-in warden (Inside Housing, 23 April).

In an exclusive interview before the election, he said ‘lots of people who move into sheltered housing do expect a 24-hour warden’. ‘I rather like the idea Help the Aged has come up with about putting changes to warden services to a vote of affected residents,’ Mr Clegg added. ‘That’s the kind of good practice I hope more housing associations and councils will use.’

SHUK also asked Mr Clegg to ring-fence budgets for sheltered housing and to pass their views to Eric Pickles, communities and local government secretary.

Anne Jepson, SHUK’s secretary, said the current situation, where councils or social landlords decide whether or not to keep live-in wardens in their social housing schemes was a ‘location lottery’.

The group has not yet received a reply from Mr Clegg.

The Cabinet Office was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Readers' comments (6)

  • And where is the money supposed to come from? We read here that £3.2billion is needed just for decent homes and all the other changes in the pipeline, housing admin costs are going through the roof (just hope they dont make a hole in it a we cant afford to repair it!).

    There seems to be a real lack of awareness that housing isnt just about people, it is about money too. We cant always provide what people want, we can only have what we can afford in any walk of life.

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  • Kate Kane

    I'm afraid that no matter how much we may wish for something, if the budget for Supporting People funding does not exist, then 24 hour warden on-site presense cannot be sustained.

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  • Whilst the general principal expressed above (anon. 6.8.10 8.29 a.m.) is quite correct, one wonders: How were resident wardens paid for in the past, and how much real difference would they now make to the overall budget of each sheltered scheme - would not any increase be reflected in the service charge to residents?; How much money could be saved by the withdrawal of all the glossy PR, self-congratulatory, propaganda material which is so copiously produced and liberally distributed to all tenants (often by post) by RSLs, whether tenants want it or not?; How much money could be similarly saved by the withdrawal of countless 'surveys', similarly mailed, which most tenants bin because they are of the box-ticking variety with limited questions often calculated to produce the response preferred by the RSL, rather than reflect the real views of tenants (a simple personal canvassing of the views of interested tenants by front-line staff who are personally familiar with their differing housing circumstances would produce a far more valid picture)?; How much money could be saved by somehow preventing the ability of social housing organisations to employ career-obsessed senior executive staff at obscenely high salaries, when there must be those with a true vocation to help the less advantaged - and who have the skills (not too demanding, judging by the performance of some of the former) to fulfil their duties with integrity?; How much money could be saved by in some way prohibiting RSLs from chasing tenants, and sometimes taking them to court, for arrears which they do not owe, but which have been flagged up on systems because of staff incompetence or flawed technology? Some of these practices may need legislative review in order for RSLs to feel secure in their information and consultation practices, but some have become part of dubious and ill-conceived routine or tradition.

    No doubt tenant readers could think of many more such economies which would in no way affect their own standard of housing, but would perhaps help RSLs to provide live-in staff for any sheltered schemes they may run. Most elderly and frail folk in sheltered accommodation are profoundly grateful for their modest homes and treat them with respect. They deserve the best that can be achieved, and the mere knowledge of the normal residence amongst them of a younger person (or family) can be of enormous moral support, even if that person is 'off duty'.

    Another aspect of the removal of resident staff is the disposal of their accommodation, which seems more and more to be let to 'general needs' or 'emergency' tenants. Without the confidence promoted by the presidence of a resident member of staff, and the reassurance that they do not risk being exposed to the kind of ASB sometimes associated with other types of tenant, for what are sheltered scheme tenants paying their often very high rates of service charge?

    As for 'decent homes' - my experience of such stock improvement is that after years of conscious neglect and stock mismanagement it is now being rushed through to meet dead-lines, with the attendant economies and poor workmanship. I wonder whether the extra £3.2 billion is required for additional projects, or to put right those already undertaken which have produced more problems (in terms of repairs and maintenance) than they have resolved?

    Admin. costs? We have surely all observed these multiply through the incompetence and foolishness of some of those working in the field who are ill-equipped to do so................

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  • Isn't the reality that in many areas of the country (London excluded?) live in wardens hardly exist anyway because it has proven increasingly difficult to employ pepople to live in? Also 24 hour warden is a misnoma anyway. Even if a warden lives on site they are not on duty 24 hours a day and only work their set hours during the day, usually monday to friday. (Employment law has something to sat about expecting staff to be on duty/call 24/7 365 days per year) People are fighting for the wrong thing - a non existant service. What they ought to be fighting for is dedicated staff that are based on site when on duty and deliver a unified support and housing management service rather than a general floating support service which operates in a locality.
    If people want 24 hour security then they should pay for it, or, if their needs etc are such then perhaps consider extracare.

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  • The money come from. Sheltered Housing is not new, it's been around since the days of Almshouses, and the more imaginative trace it back to Althastan . If was John Prescott, struck apparently by a blinding flash of intuition which apparently cleared up the generations of misguided thinking by millions. If one dismantled Sheltered Housing, then nobody would have to pay for it.........

    Vernon j yarker
    Chairman
    SHUK

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  • Joe Halewood

    Couldnt they have sent Clegg a pendant so he would call then?

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