Council House Britain, a new six-part documentary on Channel 4, takes viewers inside one of the country’s biggest public landlords, Southwark Council, to tell the story of housing in the 21st century.
As the need for decent homes across the UK has never been so high, cash-strapped councils are struggling to meet demands.
The access-all-areas series, produced by The Garden Productions (24 Hours in A&E), will feature both council workers and their tenants telling their stories.
As one of the councils hit hardest by government cuts, Southwark has a portfolio of 55,000 properties, but with 10,000 people on the waiting list for housing, only five new homes are available each week.
Viewers will meet tenants who have made their home in the shadow of the Shard and flanked by London's luxury flats. And with nearly 40 per cent of Southwark’s population living in properties managed by the council, there is never a dull moment, from hoarders and shut-ins, dealing with invading pests and never-ending leaks, to the heart-breaking stories of families on the edge and fighting eviction.
Viewers will see pest officers Andy and Wayne grapple with everything from mice and bed bugs to exotic spiders and snakes, and follow housing officer Charmaine, who looks after 650 tenants. 'I’m one singular person who tries to help everybody as best I can,' says Charmaine, 'we get a bit frustrated with some of the challenges, but my priority is my residents, and if they need something, I do try my level best to get it resolved.'
Two years in the making, John Hay, Chief Creative Officer at The Garden, says the series will be surprising and fascinating, and will make viewers laugh and bring them to tears.
Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, comments: 'It’s incredibly exciting that after two years of scoping and filming, we are about to share this documentary with the world. Council officers are often the unsung heroes of the public sector, but just as COVID-19 has revealed the important work our rubbish collectors and social care workers do, Council House Britain will show the country how passionate and committed our housing teams are.
'I’m grateful to The Garden and Channel 4 for shining a light on the challenges councils and residents are facing after years of austerity and celebrating the many wonderful and unique people who call Southwark home. Welcome to Southwark – we hope you enjoy your visit.'
Council House Britain will broadcast in the autumn on Channel 4.
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