Product Information

Blog entered 2 September 2013, and concerns the 16 Flats at Timber Close, St Austell, Cornwall.                      


                   The Sanctuary Housing Service Charge Scam for 2013 - 2014.

Readers will recall last years attempt by Sanctuary Housing to deceive it's tenants into believing the 2012 - 2013 Service Charge would be £4.24 a week. This was subsequently reduced to £3.70 after I challenged Sanctuary's misinformation. That it then took this multi-million pound sewar rat longer to figure out it's own misinformation than the month long consultation period offered to tenants to disagree the new charges.

The 2013 - 2014 Service Charge was announced towards the end of May 2013 and began the first week in July 2013. Although I requested the 'Grounds Maintenance Specification' in good time, as I did last year, I did not recieve it or any information until a couple of days before the consultation period was over. The 'Grounds Maintenance Specification' was anonymously hand delivered along with a "Notice to Seek Possession" of my home on 27 June 2013, the day my wife died, hence my delay dealing with this issue.

I knew the Service Charge had been reduced from £3.70 to £3.13 a week but no explanation was provided by Sanctuary to help tenants understand why the Service Charge had been reduced.

Once into the new 2013 - 2014 period it soon became clear that maintenance was not being done every week. Although I brought this to the attention of Sanctuary Group Directors Simon Clark, Rosemary Crawley and Sanctuary's CEO David Bennett, none have replied to my numerous written requests.

According to the "Grounds Maintenance Specification 2013/14 for Timber Close" Sanctuary had made changes to the frequency it would cut the grass, ie. "3 visits per month - Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept / 2 visits per month - Mar, Apr, May, Oct / 1 visit in Nov ". In reality I reported only 2 visits in July and 2 in August despite the 3 visits per month indicated in the 'Specification'. Although this related only to the cutting of grass, "grass to be no higher than 6cm", Sanctuary failed to carry out any specified weekly tasks in accordance with the 'Ground Maintenance Specification' between grass cutting visits.

So what are the financial implications of the reduction ?

The reduction of the Service Charge to £3.13 x 52 weeks = £162.76 a year means the tenants (16) will each save £29.64 compared to last year which is a collective saving of £474.24. (16) x £162.76 means the tenants will collectively pay Sanctuary £2,604.16 in Service Charge payments for the 2013 - 2014 period. Because most of the tenants are on benefits the Council will save the most of the £474.24 reduction.

On the face of it then a good deal for the tenants ?

Well no not really. Because the tenants are only saving 57p per week for 52 weeks the savings are little compared to the savings Sanctuary will make for not providing a proper weekly maintenance service for a lot less time than 52 weeks.

If Sanctuary continues to take a weekly Service Charge of £3.13 and continues to disregard the weekly tasks specified in the Grounds Maintenance Specification and visits only 21 times during the 2013 - 2014 to cut the grass, according to it's own calculations, Sanctuary will profit very nicely for providing a much reduced and inadequate service to it's tenants.

Even if Sanctuary only visits every other week, 26 weeks altogether, Sanctuary will still pocket £81.38 from each tenant. Multiply this by (16) and Sanctuary will save £1,302.08 this year. And remember - Sanctuary is not going to visit every other week, quite the contrary during the duller months, so the sum of £1,302.08 is the least Sanctuary will pocket from just 16 tenants.

Rolled out across the country to Sanctuary's 94,000 properties would represent substantial savings to Sanctuary in return for a much reduced, cut to the bone, and substandard service to it's tenants.

I consider it "profiteering" by Sanctuary because the reduction is not related to any increased running costs or charges but a reduction in the quality and frequency of weekly maintenance. That if it were any other way the Service Charge would have been left at £3.70 or transparently increased.

The reduction of services also sets a dangerous precedent for future years. If Sanctuary gets away with conning it's tenants this year who is going to stop it introducing a revised 'Grounds Maintenance Specification' next year based on the same or worse schedule which will eventually become the norm and will involve increases to the Service Charge.

I actually think Sanctuary is at least in breach of contract and at most is breaking the law for taking a weekly Service Charge payment in return for a fortnightly, 3 weekly, monthly or 3 monthly services.

In terms of Sanctuary Housing being a registered Charity and it's claim of 'Putting People Before Profits' this housing giant is fast becoming a grotesquely greedy, un-caring and un-charitable monster for the way it treats it's tenants. Some being the most vulnerable and least able to protect themselves from the type of deception, abuse, theft, fraud and criminality Sanctuary has engaged in.

A Monster even the Church of England has climbed into bed with in order to profit from the very disadvantaged people the Church once sought to protect.

So there you have it. Sanctuary's 2013 - 2014 Service Charge Scam is not about maintaining an adequate weekly maintenance schedule but is about deceiving tenants, stealing from tenants and bribing local authorities with a small reduction. The tenants will pay more for less, local authorities will be silenced and Sanctuary will screw anybody and anything for the love of money.

History : In 2009 Sanctuary witheld services for nearly a year and resorted to criminality to cover it up. This involved the theft of over £3,000.00 in Service Charge payments, deception, an official complaint which remained open for some 800 days, a TPAS Mediation Scam in 2010 to protect TPAS Accredited Sanctuary Housing and bury the issues, harassment in 2011 to force me out of my Sanctuary home, and my arrest in 2012 by the police which is still being investigated by the IPCC.

Since 2009 Sanctuary has frequently disregarded it's 'Grounds Maintenance Specification' schedule and neglected services while continuing to take weekly Service Charge payments. I believe the legal profession call it Fraud. Perhaps Wragge & Co will put me right.

Update 03/09/13 : I think the term I was originally looking for was Taking Money Under False Pretences, and financially benefiting from it. Did Cornwall Council know because the tenants were certainly not told.

08/09/13 : Perhaps Cornwall Council was behind the reduction so as to avoid having to prosecute Sanctuary ?


                  List of recipients who have been sent a copy of this Blog

Cornwall Council, 02/09/13. TPAS, 02/09/13 Ref : 811. The Tim Burness Blog, 02/09/13. The Audit Commission, 02/09/13. The Charity Commission, 02/09/13. Shelter, 02/09/13. TPAS Awards, 02/09/13. Stephen Gilbert MP, 02/09/13. Cornwall Council Benefit Fraud Department, 04/09/13, The Cornish Guardian, 04/09/13.


Price: 0.00

Product Code: SHSCS