Housing secretary announces ‘crackdown’ following death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak

Michael Gove has pledged to block affordable housing providers who breach consumer standards from receiving development funding, following the death of two-year old Awaab Ishak.

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Michael Gove has pledged to improve the standards of social housing properties

The housing secretary, in what the government is calling a ‘crackdown’ on poor standards, said he will prevent housing associations and councils from receiving grant under the £11.5bn affordable homes programme (AHP) if they are deemed non-compliant with the standards.

He said he will also consider stripping providers of their existing AHP allocations but only if construction has not already started on site.

The consumer standards, enforced by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH), include a requirement to provide tenants with quality accommodation (see box below) and to provide a cost-effective repairs and maintenance that “responds to the needs of tenants”.

Gove said he has already stripped 12,000-home Rochdale Boroughwide Housing – the manager of Awaab Ishak’s home – of its £1m of AHP funding, and said it will not receive any AHP contracts for new homes until the RSH can prove it is a responsible landlord.

Gove said: “Let this be a warning to other housing providers who are ignoring complaints and failing in their obligations to tenants. We will not hesitate to act.

“Everyone deserves the right to live in a safe, decent home and this government will always act to protect tenants.”

The move is part of a tougher line taken by Gove this week in the wake of a public outcry over the death of Ishak due to exposure to black mould in an RBH property.

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Gove has written to all social housing providers this week saying they need to “raise the bar dramatically on the quality of social housing” and calling them to assess damp and mould issues in their properties.

He has also written to six providers specifically, who he said has “let tenants down”, these are Clarion, Southern Housing, Onward Homes, Catalyst, PA Housing and Johnnie Johnson Housing.

The Social Housing Regulation Bill is also currently making its way through parliament. This will strengthen the ability of RSH to intervene on consumer issues, bring in a new set of tenant satisfaction measures and allow RSH to carry out inspections and arrange emergency repairs.


The Regulator of Social Housing’s four consumer standards

Home Standard – quality of accommodation and repairs and maintenance

Tenancy Standard – how properties are allocated/exchanged and terms around tenure

Neighbourhood and Community Standard – issues around neighbourhood and communal areas and anti-social behaviour

Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard – customer service and complaints, tenant rights and involvement.