Landlord calls on Shapps to soften criticism
A landlord has begged the housing minister to end “unjustified rhetoric” as a row over allocations fairness escalates.
Mick Kent, chief executive of Bromford Housing, called on Grant Shapps in an open letter to soften his scathing criticism of social housing providers.
He is the latest in a line of housing executives to react with anger after the minister made controversial comments about social tenants which implied that negligent housing providers were to blame for injustice in the housing allocation system.
On Friday Mr Shapps said: ‘For years the system for social housing has been associated with injustice – where rewards are reaped for those who know how to play the system best.
‘Despite this terrible image a lazy consensus in social housing has ensured that, for an entire generation, no-one has bothered to do anything about it.’
In his letter, the Bromford chief executive rejects the accusation that housing providers have been remiss, but voices frustration that they have been shackled for years by national guidelines on allocation.
“We support your intentions,” he writes, “and agree some things need to change – but cannot accept the allegation that social housing providers have been failing to address the issues we face.”
“I invite you to visit us to see the way our colleagues work every day to change the lives of some of society’s poorest and most vulnerable people, encouraging and supporting them to break out of dependency.
He said: ‘I see housing providers, LAs, ALMOs and HAs, striving to meet the needs of individuals and families in need and their wider communities.’
He argues that although the minister is largely in favour of relaxing constraints on local authorities, the language used is damagingly divisive.
‘It is counter-productive to make comments that can only insult both our colleagues and our customers. Some people will always try to manipulate any system but they are not representative of the overwhelming majority,’ he said.
‘Let’s not waste the opportunity we now have with unjustified rhetoric that drives everyone into opposing corners.’
Mr Shapps’ comments last week angered a number of chief executives, who said the minister’s claim that the allocations system is unjust could not be supported.
A Communities and Local Government department spokesperson said: ‘Ministers recognise the valuable work that social landlords do providing good quality housing and support to millions of tenants.
‘As he has done before, Grant Shapps was making clear that he is ending the lazy consensus among politicians, as well as the rigid, centralised laws and guidance that has tied the hands of innovative social landlords.
‘We are already seeing many housing associations and local authorities respond creatively to the new flexibilities which the government is now providing as, freed from constraints, they are much better able to respond to local needs. We have received the letter from Bromford Group and will respond in due course.’