Next week the preliminary hearing into the Grenfell tower Inquiry will begin.
When the Terms of Reference were announced many, including Shelter, wanted the government to take a closer look at social housing, Shelter CEO Polly Neate called for tenants voices to be central in the response:
“In the coming months we must hear the voices of all those affected by this tragedy, loud and clear and with real influence, so they can get the justice they rightly seek.
“Tenants tell us they feel like second class citizens, and the government must now make good on its promise to look closely at the wider question of social housing.”
We were therefore pleased to see London Mayor Sadiq Kahn call, on Friday, for a Commissioner for Social Housing to be introduced, independent of government with a remit to act as a watchdog for social housing residents, to ensure their voices are heard at national level.
We need measures like this to ensure the voices of social tenants are heard. Too often complaints are raised with no action taken, and in the case of the Grenfell Tower Fire, with tragic consequences.
Of 1,050 complaints received in two years to the Regulator of Social Housing – a government function designed to oversee standards in social housing, only ten led to findings of ‘serious detriment’ and so met the threshold for triggering regulatory action.
Since the fire happened Shelter has been supporting those affected, and campaigning hard to ensure this never happens again, but to do that we need fundamental change.
The truth is that the country is in the worst housing crisis for a generation. Renting, both social and private is often not fit for purpose, if you are a renter of any kind your voice is too easily ignored, your rights too often neglected.
We can’t, and won’t, let this happen again. Join us in making sure it doesn’t.