A Wake-Up Call on Unacceptable Council Service Ratings
Shocking new data surrounding Council Housing Satisfaction in Brighton & Hove reveals a troubling trend. A recent council customer satisfaction survey indicates a low score of just 23% in the Housing Needs department, shedding light on severe systemic failures.
These respondents are often among the most vulnerable in our community—people facing homelessness, those in urgent need of housing benefit assistance, and individuals requiring emergency housing solutions. The survey, aimed at gauging customer satisfaction, has revealed a systemic failure that demands immediate attention.
The survey specifically targeted users of the Housing Needs department and included questions about the standard of customer service received.
Respondents had the option to rate the service on a scale ranging from “Excellent” to “Unacceptable,” represented by percentages from 100% to 0%. Astonishingly, a significant number of service users gave a 23% rating, indicating “Unacceptable Service.”
What Does "Unacceptable" Mean in the Context of Housing Needs?
A 0% rating in the context of Housing Needs is deeply concerning. It implies that the department has utterly failed in its mission to provide essential services like emergency housing, homelessness prevention, and timely processing of housing benefits. This level of dissatisfaction points to issues such as bureaucratic delays, lack of empathy, and possibly even systemic discrimination.
What support have you received from your housing officer?
“My housing man won’t even answer my emails. I am being ignored. I’m so stressed and upset. It’s not fair. I just want my baby to be in a safe place.”
“The communication is non-existent. We have spoken once, and since then, he doesn’t respond to emails.”
What has happened as a result?
“I haven’t been allocated a housing officer yet. I’m still being chased up.”
“I feel brushed aside like I or my situation doesn’t matter.”
How do you feel you have been treated by your housing officer?
“Not very well. To the point I want to request another housing officer. He has no empathy for my situation and is not helping me at all.”
“I feel like everyone has failed me, and they only talk about the money side of things.”
“I don’t think I have been treated well at all. My vulnerability and concerns have been disregarded.”
The implications of such a low rating are severe and far-reaching. Poor service from the Housing Needs department doesn’t just erode public trust; it puts lives at risk. We know 43 homeless people died last year in Brighton & Hove. Those who are already vulnerable—facing eviction, homelessness, or severe housing insecurity—are further endangered by a system that is supposed to protect them.
A Wake-Up Call
This survey serves as a wake-up call for the Housing Needs department to take immediate and effective action. It’s not merely about improving customer service; it’s about fulfilling the basic human right to secure and adequate housing. The department needs to conduct an internal review, hold those responsible accountable, and most importantly, listen to the voices of the service users.
Council Recommendations to Turn Things Around:
Introduce and embed a new triage service in Homelessness & Housing Options, centralising all customer channels into a single team, providing customers and partners with a single point of contact to access housing advice and support.
Establish more effective case management practices to ensure applications are progressed in a timely way and customers are kept informed of the steps that we are taking, and they need to take, to prevent their homelessness.
Develop an online single-access portal for customers who are seeking housing advice, want to join the housing register or update their records and see the action being taken on their application.
Improve our housing register application and change of circumstances online form to make it quicker and easier for applicants to apply or notify us of any changes.
My Recommendations to Turn Things Around:
Introduce and embed Call Recordings for Quality, Training & Monitoring Purposes.
Introduce a Lived Experience Job Interview Guarantee Scheme | Amend Recruitment & HR Policies to help transform the culture and diversity within housing needs department, including management culture and recruitment.
Be accountable for preventable homeless deaths, Responsible for Safeguarding Effectively. Answer Residents Communications within a Clear Timeframe to Lower Stress & Mental Health
Frontline workers working with vulnerable clients should have trauma informed training with more people with lived experience working within the council.
REINSTATE IN-HOUSE COUNCIL ROOM/PLACEMENT INSPECTIONS This service seems to have stopped. Residents report providers are ignoring disrepair and security / safeguarding issues. IMPROVE STAFF TRAINING BEING ABLE TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS
INQUIRY INTO HOMELESS DEATHS
OVER 100 PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS HAVE DIED IN THE LAST 3 YEARS
Following the feedback from respondents in terms of the service provided & mental health impacts, with too t many reporting suicidal thoughts or intent, and the lack of help available, including safeguarding and reports from family members of people who have died whilst being homeless warrants a formal inquiry into the circumstances which led up to, in and around and after someone died. What are the lessons?