An independent report has found that a housing association “had lacked empathy and care” when dealing with a case that involved serious racial harassment.
The review by Jackie Odunoye, an experienced independent housing professional, was commissioned by L&Q’s Resident Services Board (RSB) following a court decision which criticised the way the organisation had managed a case involving serious racial harassment.
The review also sets out a practical action plan for L&Q to improve services to residents.
In its findings, the report said that L&Q had “lacked empathy and care in its dealings with the person at the centre of the case”, and this was compounded by an “inconsistent approach to case work”, with not enough proactive action when it comes to extremely serious cases.
It found that while L&Q’s policies and procedures are complete and up to date, “they are too numerous and don’t link together properly.”
Poor communication and lack of communication was also cited, with a “greater need for empathy and focus on getting positive outcomes for residents.”
To address the issues raised by the report, L&Q will be implementing the recommendation that an action plan, “driven by organisational values and resident-focused services”, is put in place.
This will include a number of immediate and longer term actions, including:
- Introducing customer experience training for the Customer Service team, and specialist training for all frontline colleagues in how to deal with hate crime and antisocial behaviour;
- Introducing vulnerability and safeguarding leaders in local teams;
- Carrying out an annual programme of tenancy and property support visits, to ensure greater visibility and proactively offer support where needed;
- Streamlining the housing management structure and increasing frontline staff;
- Bringing in named housing officers with smaller patches to provide locally responsive services. These will be supported by specialist teams for more complex cases.
Gerri Scott, Group Director of Customer Services at L&Q, said: “In April L&Q launched a new corporate strategy that puts residents at the heart of everything we do.
“We want to build relationships based on trust, transparency and fairness, but in recent times we have seen too many cases where L&Q has simply not been good enough. Some of our residents in particular have been badly let down by our response to cases involving racial harassment and hate crime.
“This independent report spells out the reasons why we are not always getting it right, and identifies practical solutions for fixing this. We fully accept the findings of the report, and are committed to implementing the proposed action plan, with our Resident Services Board having complete oversight of this work.”
She added: “While this report focused solely on L&Q, some of the issues identified are likely to be encountered by residents across the wider sector. In sharing this report, and being frank about its findings, we hope to spearhead a broader debate about how we can learn and improve as a sector. Our goal is to ensure every resident feels equal and included, and has a home and services they can be proud of.”
Fayann Simpson, Chair of RSB, said: “I am very pleased that L&Q have engaged so honestly and transparently with this important review. It has enabled a robust and practical action plan for improvement to be developed.
“Successful implementation and delivery of this plan will allow L&Q to reconnect with residents and rebuild trust by improving the quality, consistency and timeliness of case work, improving ASB and complaints handling, and embedding a culture of equity and fairness.”
You can see the full report here.