11 November 2020
A picture of Discrimination Case Review Update

Earlier this year, a resident living in what is called a ‘live/work home’ (a flat and accompanying commercial space) informed us that they believed they were the victim of racial discrimination due to paying more monthly rent than their neighbour in a similar property. These properties are unique as the only two live/work homes within the 102,000 homes managed by Sanctuary.

We undertook a comprehensive internal investigation into the situation including talking with both residents as well as current and former staff members who were involved in the management of both properties. 

Our investigation did find mistakes had been made in the management of these specific properties, and the resident in question had been paying rent at a higher level than their neighbour for a similar property.

We have apologised to the resident and have repaid the full difference in rent paid. As an organisation we have already taken steps to ensure this does not happen again to any Sanctuary tenants.

To establish whether this error was due to racial discrimination or unconscious bias, we also commissioned external consultants Altair to undertake a comprehensive independent review of the issue and to set out recommendations as to how Sanctuary can improve our systems and processes.

This report found that mistakes had been made and therefore the residents had been treated inconsistently but there was no evidence to support the suggestion the issue was caused due to race discrimination or systemic bias. The report also states it is not possible in such circumstances to completely rule out that such factors did not play a role in the decisions which resulted in the differences in rent between the residents of the two properties.

As a result of these findings Sanctuary are implementing all the changes recommended by the independent report. These include to:

  • Review and develop specific policies and procedures to support the management of the market rented properties in the commercial portfolio.
  • Review and develop a strong and more robust control and delegated authority framework which clearly sets out how, when and at what level decisions can be made by individuals in relation to the market rented properties.
  • Revising tenancy agreements, with rent levels aligned to the correct funding requirements, which will be put in place for both properties.

As part of wider diversity and inclusion initiatives being developed by the Diversity and Inclusion Manager:

  • As a matter of routine, Sanctuary’s Commercial Team will rigorously assess outcomes on different groups of their activities
  • Training will be provided on how biases can affect decision-making and how to become culturally curious, aware and proactive.