Mark Whitehead 24 January 2018

Charity launches social housing commission

Charity launches social housing commission

Shelter has launched a commission to investigate the future of social housing in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

A survey by the charity found almost half of families in social housing who reported unsafe or poor conditions felt they had been ignored or refused help.

Problems included fire safety, gas leaks and electrical hazards as well as mould and pests.

The commission will be chaired by Rev Mike Long of the Notting Hill Methodist Church near Grenfell Tower where 71 people died in the fire last June.

Other members are Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Ed Miliband MP, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Lord Jim O’Neill and Grenfell Tower survivor Edward Daffarn.

It will include roadshows, an online public consultation and research with social housing tenants.

A report will be presented to prime minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by the end of the year.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, also found a quarter of families in social housing said they felt looked down on because of where they live compared with 8% of private renters or homeowners.

Rev Long said: 'We need to take a long hard look at why communities such as Grenfell have felt ignored, forgotten and too often like second-class citizens.

'The experiences of residents here in Grenfell are sadly common in many other parts of the country, too.'

The Local Government Association said it was important the work proceeds on 'the basis of good evidence'.

'According to the Government’s latest English Housing Survey, the vast majority of social renters – 81% – were satisfied with their accommodation. Social housing is twice as likely to meet the decent homes standard as the private rented sector,' said cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing spokesman.

'But councils need to have the financial tools to invest in the quality of their housing stock. The Government needs to use the upcoming final Local Government Finance Settlement to accept the calls of both the LGA and the cross-party Treasury Select Committee, and completely scrap the cap on the amount councils can borrow to invest in new and existing homes.'

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