FEARS have been raised over the effects that ‘poor quality’ social housing is having on residents' health – as a veteran hits out at being ‘dumped’ in a tiny bungalow.

Mike Hawkins, who represents Mirehouse on Cumberland Council, has voiced concerns over a number of properties in Whitehaven provided by Home Group.

He is calling on the housing association to take action amid fears there could be a fatality similar to the young child who died after being exposed to mould in a social housing flat in Rochdale.

Cllr Hawkins said: “Over the last six months, I’ve been visiting a lot of people and I’m shocked by the state of some of the houses.

“The damp is half way up the wall. There are children in there. The standard response you get is, if you’ve got damp, open your windows.

“I’ve known parents this summer who have had their back gardens dug up and they haven’t finished the job. They’ve been left with unsafe steps going up the garden.

“You can’t get in touch with people. I’m fed up of it. Housing is one of the biggest problems to people’s health. You can see people really suffering and there just seems to be no end to it.

“They don’t seem to listen to residents. One resident had to go to the ombudsman to get an issue resolved. It’s ridiculous.

“You hear of little kids dying. I fear that something like that is going to happen here. I really fear someone is going to die in one of these properties if they don’t get their act together.

“Nobody seems to be listening or taking it seriously. It’s not good enough. People’s lives are being affected by poor quality housing.”

Military veteran Kevin Gott, 64, says he and his disabled wife were moved out of a three-bed Home Group property at Crummock Avenue in Whitehaven while works to fix a number of defects were carried out.

They were housed in a smaller two-bed bungalow at St Andrew’s Crescent, in Mirehouse, which Mr Gott describes as a ‘rabbit hutch’.

The house at Crummock Avenue has now been let out to someone else and the couple are in accommodation which is far too small for their needs.

Mr Gott, who has suffered from PTSD since leaving the army in 2014, said: “It’s unfit for purpose. According to Home Group, my wife and I are adequately housed.

“When we lived at Crummock Avenue, we had a surveyor come round and he condemned the central heating system because they found damp by the window. We had no central heating for three years.

“The plaster came off the wall by the stairs and we could actually see our next-door neighbour. We had a leaking toilet downstairs. The seals on the windows had gone.

“At one stage there were 63 defects.”

Louise Barkes, head of maintenance at Home Group, said: “Despite our best efforts we were unable to agree temporary housing so we could carry out repairs in the customers’ home from March 2021. Although we offered alternatives there was not one deemed suitable.  We were then informed that our customer could not return to the same property on health grounds after repair works were carried out, and that we would need to find them a level access property.

“We found our customer a bungalow in a sought after area, which was viewed by them and signed for on a permanent basis. If our customers don’t feel the home they signed for is right for them they can of course apply to move. We would advise our customers to make an application for re-housing.

“Given we were advised by health professionals that our customer could not return to Crummock Avenue we subsequently let that home.

“In relation to remarks made by the councillor, we have no record of him contacting us to raise the issues he does here. We have contacted the councillor to ask to meet so we can address the issues he raised.

“We have no outstanding inspections waiting from customers with damp and mould on our system, but I would urge any of our customers who feel they have a new issue to contact us immediately on 03451414663.”