Outrage at Lambeth Living cutbacks
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
tenants on estates like the Ethelred are facing increased charges and service cuts
IT was supposed to end a borough’s social housing woes – but just months since it was set up, the private firm that runs council estates in Lambeth is hitting tenants with major cutbacks.
Lambeth Living Limited – an arm’s-length management organisation – was supposed to bring great improvements for the tenants and leaseholders of 33,000 council-owned homes.
But a major financial crisis in Lambeth council’s housing department, which is millions in the red, means Lambeth Living is having to make drastic cutbacks to services.
Tenants already face rent hikes of up to £14 per week from next April and the council is ramping up heating and hot water charges by 65 per cent, and lighting charges by more than 30 per cent from next month.
And now Lambeth Living is slashing services and cutting jobs in a bid to save more than £2.5million over the next 18 months.
It wants to close four housing offices in Norwood, Stockwell and Clapham.
This would force tenants and leaseholders who wanted to pay their rent, or have problems that need to be sorted out, to travel to the three remaining housing offices in Streatham, Brixton and Kennington.
The office closure plan comes on top of earlier closures that have seen more than seven housing offices shut down.
A home redecoration scheme for elderly tenants has been axed, the replacement of out-of-date gas fires stopped, as well as the upgrade of communal boilers.
Almost 50 “capital projects” on estates will also be canned, including lift and window replacements and works on roofs and drainage.
Almost 70 jobs are to be axed across departments – including maintenance and repair staff.
A total of 130 jobs are expected to be cut in the next year.
Opposition councillors have slammed the cutbacks which they claim will hit long-suffering tenants hard.
Lib Dem councillor Jeremy Clyne said: “With this swingeing round of cuts, tenants – especially elderly, vulnerable residents – are paying for Labour mismanagement of the housing service, and this is before the double rent rise hits them.
"It is an absolute shambles.”
A Lambeth Living spokeswoman said the firm hoped to keep the service cuts to a minimum.
She said an “impact assessment” would be conducted before housing offices were closed and there would be a full consultation with staff and unions before any job cuts were made.