SAFEGUARDING the health and wellbeing of residents should be an “absolute priority” for housing associations.

That’s the message from Lee Bloomfield, chief executive of Manningham Housing Association – which manages more than 1,400 homes for over 6,000 residents in Keighley and Bradford.

He was speaking following TV reports that some social housing residents are living in homes that have damp, mould and other serious issues.

Mr Bloomfield – who has headed-up Manningham Housing Association since 2018 – said that in order to combat an acute shortage of social and affordable homes, some larger associations were “placing growth ahead of maintaining and improving their existing properties”.

He said: “The news reports were shocking and having spoken to senior colleagues in other housing associations, I know there is a feeling of widespread revulsion about what was uncovered.

“It is fair to say that the majority of larger housing associations strike a balance of providing new homes whilst maintaining and improving their existing stock.

“I have long been of the view that some large associations have been focussed almost to the point of obsession on building-up their stock portfolios at the risk of allowing the quality of their existing properties to deteriorate.

“In contrast, smaller housing associations with lower stock numbers often tend to focus their resources on organic growth and maintaining their existing properties to higher standards.

“Manningham Housing Association undertook a comprehensive stock condition survey in 2017 which confirmed that our 1,400-plus properties are in good condition. Since then, we have invested a further £2.5 million in these homes – including upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms. Our corporate strategy contains four key objectives, including a steadfast commitment to looking after our existing homes.

“When we consulted with residents in Keighley and Bradford in 2019 about the association’s growth plans, they supported our desire to build new properties but not at the expense of existing homes falling to lower standards.”

Mr Bloomfield added that in the association’s most recent residents survey, satisfaction levels with the repairs and maintenance service had risen to 91 per cent.