The HCA has identified a number of service failures which have affected Circle Housing residents, particularly in parts of London, which Clarion Housing Group is taking urgent steps to address.
Neil McCall (former Operations Director at Affinity Sutton) is responsible for Clarion Housing Group’s Housing Operations and says:
“We recognise the concerns that have been raised by the regulator. Those residents who have been affected deserve an apology and I offer that unreservedly.
“It is unacceptable that some residents have been impacted by poor quality services, we need to understand how this has happened and we need to move things on. I am confident that we have the right balance of determination, skills and experience at Clarion Housing Group to solve these problems.
“Some of the improvements required will take time, but we are already putting a programme in place to transform the way services are delivered. As a start, residents have struggled to reach our contact centre and we are in the process of fixing this problem – we are already able to answer calls more quickly but there are more improvements to come. Over the coming months we will work closely with residents, the HCA and other stakeholders to ensure our services and performance, and that of our contractors, meet the expectations our residents can reasonably expect and the standards set by the regulator.”
Separately, and as anticipated following completion of the merger, Moody’s has downgraded the long-term issuer rating of Clarion Housing Group to A2 with a negative outlook, in line with the rating of Circle prior to merger. Moody’s notes, however, that Affinity Sutton has a history of successful mergers. The negative outlook reflects the sector wide risks on the housing association sector following the UK vote to leave the EU.