A housing association is proposing to restructure its housing services team, prompting redundancy fears and concern it is "turning its back on the elderly, vulnerable people in the community."

Letchworth-based social housing provider settle is proposing to get rid of two roles - retirement living officers and supported housing officers - and create a new role of neighbourhood partner, as well as creating more tenancy support roles.

settle, which provides homes across North Hertfordshire, says the move will enable it to "deliver a more demand-led approach to neighbourhood services,"  and will "increase capacity to support more vulnerable residents".

However, getting rid of retirement living officers, who are permanently based at schemes, in favour of neighbourhood partners, who would provide housing management services, has been met with concern.


A resident of a retirement living scheme in Letchworth told the Comet: "There has been no consideration as to how the loss of our housing officers is going to affect the people living in the retirement living schemes. 

"I’m very disappointed with settle that they seem to be turning their backs on the elderly, vulnerable people in the community. This is so unfair. Some people rely on the housing officers."

One worker, who expressed fears of redundancy, said: "It is not known how the organisation will deal with their tenants in retirement living homes.

"It affects some 700 people, with some of the worries being who deals with tenants' problems, as the present staff will no longer be there."


However, settle said the proposals would see "a demand-led service model to meet residents’ needs, with work distributed more evenly and fairly across different housing disciplines, with three larger geographical areas."

Joe Williams, director for housing at settle, explained: "The neighbourhood partner will work in partnership with residents and partners across schemes and tenures.

"As part of this proposed change, the neighbourhood partners will not be exclusively based in any one scheme, as they will be out in our neighbourhoods responding to requests from residents.

"They will continue to complete walkabouts and visits to schemes and will be available to support any specific query which residents can raise by calling us, or raising this online."


He continued: "The proposals have been led by feedback from residents across all tenures, which shows that they want us to be more responsive to meet their needs, and colleague feedback around more even allocation of caseload.

"There are also changes in the housing sector, brought through the Social Housing Bill and a new framework of consumer regulations.

"To ensure we meet the changes in the regulatory environment and respond to resident and colleague feedback, a more demand-led approach is proposed.

"We are keen to stress that these are proposals at this stage. We are currently in a consultation period and our focus is on supporting colleagues through this time and continuing to deliver services for residents."