Housing misery for old people

ELDERLY and vulnerable people living in council homes in the Cheddar area are suffering because of poor services. The number of homes falling below

ELDERLY and vulnerable people living in council homes in the Cheddar area are suffering because of poor services.The number of homes falling below a decent standard is going up, vulnerable people are not being supported properly and half of common areas in the 4,200 homes do not meet Disability Discrimination Act requirements.The company looking after them, Homes in Sedgemoor, has been blasted by the Audit Commission as 'poor' with 'uncertain prospects for the future'. The not-for-profit company, which manages council-owned property on behalf of Sedgemoor District Council, was told 'there is much to do before the organisation is able to deliver the services that tenants deserve'. The company manages several housing schemes in Sedgemoor including buildings in Penn Close and Wellington Place in Cheddar, The Mead in Shipham and housing in Burnham and Highbridge. The report says it provides poor value for money and falls short on key services such as repairs and maintenance.It says:* There is no strategy for supporting vulnerable people.* Harassment and domestic violence policies are inadequate. * Estate management needs improving.* Ways of dealing with antisocial behaviour is underdeveloped.* Complaints are not dealt with quickly and only 63 per cent were responded to within the set 10 days.The organisation, set up in April to improve the standard of homes, received a zero star rating out of a possible three stars. However, leading housing inspector Kieran Colgan said: "It is very early days for Homes in Sedgemoor. It is a new organisation, tackling long-standing weaknesses in service delivery. Progress is being made but there is much to do before it is able to deliver the service tenants deserve."The report did have some positive points to make such as gas safety checks are being carried out promptly. Homes in Sedgemoor board chairman Hugh Mackay said: "We were brutally honest with our performance as part of the 'self-assessment' phase of the inspection so we are not surprised with the poor rating. "We are rather surprised at the uncertain prospects for improvement since we provided the inspectors with a robust action plan."We are working closely with Sedgemoor District Council in order to address our weaknesses as soon as possible. This is a disappointment for everyone involved including tenants, staff and partners and will delay us accessing much needed resources to improve the homes we manage.


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