Government consultation responses are missing

Government consultation responses are missing

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has confirmed some responses to the leasehold reform consultation have gone missing.

The government department had launched a consultation last year, which ran from October 15 to November 26, seeking feedback on how to implement the government's reforms to the leasehold system in England.

The consultation was first promised in December 2017 by then communities secretary Sajid Javid.  

Mr Javid pledged to end the "exploitation of homebuyers through unnecessary leaseholds", but critics recently voiced concern over the government’s perceived lack of action to address this issue over the past year.

On Wednesday (January 2) a number of respondents to the consultation received an email from the leasehold reform team at the Ministry, stating their response would not be counted towards the final figures.

The email, seen by FT Adviser, claimed a number of respondents were found to have only submitted names, addresses and email addresses without responding to questions within the consultation survey, which was conducted via online software SurveyMonkey.

Katie Kendrick, co-founder of the National Leasehold Campaign (NLC), a group which has rallied for leasehold reform since 2017, said she knows of 110 respondents who received the email but maintain they responded in full to the consultation.

FTAdviser understands more than 1000 responses could have been affected.

Ms Kendrick said: "So much time has been spent by leaseholders responding correctly and in full to the consultation. It is unacceptable that these responses can just be lost by a blip in the system.

"Many of these people have very strong opinions on leasehold reform and it is not likely they would have left the response blank."

FTAdviser contacted the Ministry for comment on Friday (January 4) morning.

Following this a second email was sent to respondents.

This email claimed the original correspondence had been sent "in error". 

The second email apologised for "any confusion" caused and informed affected respondents they could now resubmit their feedback via email before January 25. 

Ms Kendrick said she feels the Ministry's change of stance is not enough to rectify the situation. 

She said: "The question is, how can the Ministry be sure there are not other submissions missing? 

"If caused by a technical error the whole consultation should be reopened for all to complete, not just those the Ministry says were received as blank. 

"Leaseholders are losing confidence in the consultation process - surely the validity of the whole consultation is now questionable. 

"I do appreciate the Ministry for Housing has a difficult job, but all leaseholders want is a fair playing field. This hiccup is very concerning."

Following the apology to respondents, a Ministry spokesperson said: "We are determined to reform the leasehold sector for the better to support more homeowners, which is why we recently ran a technical consultation seeking views on the detail of our proposals.