RESIDENTS living in social housing in Bracknell have to chase issues they raise with their landlords, often having ‘long periods of no contact’ with them, a new report has revealed.

This is one of a number of findings Bracknell Forest councillors made in an investigation into housing associations in the borough.

Other discoveries included:

  • Lost reports and ‘long periods of no contact’ from housing landlords can ‘cause anxiety, uncertainty, and in some cases has a significant effect on the mental health of residents’
  • The frequency of statutory gas safety checks ‘concerned’ councillors, but housing associations interviewed by the council reassured them of their ‘robust processes’ in carrying out this check

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  • There was not a strong sense of community cohesion among social housing residents interviewed by the council despite a number of community events being put on by housing associations around the borough.
  • Environmental health officers will investigate any complaint against a landlord regardless of which type of tenure the complainant is in.
  • Despite these issues, housing associations in Bracknell Forest had high satisfaction scores on customer surveys. Silva Homes had an overall satisfaction score of 89 per cent and Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing had a score from renters of 70 per cent.

The investigation took place after residents contacted councillors for intervention following unsatisfactory responses from their registered providers of social housing.

Through interviewing residents and housing associations, councillors aimed to understand how best to support residents living in this type of accommodation.

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They looked at how housing associations engaged with their residents to create a sense of community and how well residents’ needs were being met.

Following the review, the investigatory panel came up with five recommendations which included more training for councillors, providing more information for residents online and more digital cohesion with housing providers.

Councillor Tina McKenzie-Boyle, vice-chair of the investigatory panel, said: “After interviewing the main registered providers in the borough, the panel is confident the results of our scrutiny will bring changes and better communications, not only between the registered providers and their clients but between the providers and Bracknell Forest Council.”

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The review is set to be discussed by the council’s overview and scrutiny commission on Wednesday, April 7.