Clarion Housing Group, the largest housing association in England, has been compelled to review its service charges after publication of SHAC’s report into apparent sharp practice across the sector.
Resident Involvement Officers have written to tenants and residents saying:
Clarion are carrying out a review of our Service Charge management. We want to identify ways; in which we can improve the way we work.
According to residents, this is Clarion’s first review of service charges as far as anyone is able to recall.
SHAC’s Service Charge Survey published the week previously named Clarion as one of the worst housing associations when it came to service charges. The problems identified included:
- Annual service charge rises vastly outstripping inflation
- Frequent and high overcharging errors (compared to rare and low undercharging errors)
- Difficulties getting errors addressed, with long delays and failures to get refunds
- Bills that are not itemised, making it difficult for residents to know what they are being charged for
- Efficiency savings not being passed on to tenants and residents, with increased supplier costs always being passed on
Clarion has operating margins of approximately 35% according to their 2019/20 accounts, and operating surpluses of over £293 million.
It is high time that Clarion listened to its tenants and residents, but these meetings are just a first step. It needs to clean up its act and implement rigorous controls so that it can be sure every penny charged to hard pressed tenants is valid and justified.
If you would like to join a SHAC@ group, please see here.
8 December 2020