Gove threatens to stop funding bankrupt housing association in wake of 2-year-old’s death

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Level Up, Housing and Communities, has threatened to cut funding for the bankrupt housing association following the death of Awab Ishak.

Aurve, aged 2, died in December 2020, and at an inquest last week, the coroner said his death was a direct result of prolonged exposure to damp and mold at his family’s home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. ruled that it is.

Gove met Thursday with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), the housing association that owns the apartment where Awaab died.

He blocked £1 million ($1.2 million) in funding that RBH was due to receive to build new homes.

RBH Chief Executive Gareth Swarbrick initially refused to resign, and was fired Saturday after the housing association board found his position “no longer sustainable.”

Awab’s parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, said through their lawyers, “The family says a lot about the fact that the CEO of RBH had to be sacked rather than stepped down.” issued a statement.

Awaab died in December 2020 of respiratory illness caused by mold in a one-bedroom union apartment in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

His parents repeatedly complained about mold.

Gove has threatened to deprive other social landlords of funding for new homes if they find evidence that existing properties have not been properly maintained.

Michael Gove
Community Secretary Michael Gove (Steve Parsons/PA) arrives at the Regional Council Meeting at Rolls-Royce in Bristol, UK, 15 October 2021

He told the BBC:

“A significant number of properties … in poor condition.”

“Some were built in the 60’s and 70’s and are in poor condition, others need to be properly repaired and properly maintained,” he added.

Gove said of RBH: improve. ”

Aawab’s death is believed to be the first death directly attributable to poor housing conditions.

Coroner Joanne Carsley said she hopes his death will be a “defining moment” for the housing industry.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said at the time: “The death of two-year-old Awab Ishak has sent shockwaves across the country and should be a powerful catalyst for change in housing standards in all sectors.” .

Housing ombudsman Richard Blakeway told the BBC the next day that there was “a dramatic increase in casework on wet land and houses”.

He added: You can see the results now. ”

In the aftermath of the inquest, Gove said, “We all know local governments are going through tough times financially, but frankly, that’s no excuse.

Gove tells housing association to ‘do your job’

He added: House. On all this stuff, all this ‘Oh, I wish we had more government money’ — do your job, man.

Housing associations were invented in the 1980s by the Conservative government of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to fund the building of new social housing stock, previously the responsibility of local councils.

The Thatcher government also introduced a right-to-purchase policy, which received significant votes, especially in the 1979 and 1983 elections, allowing public housing residents to purchase homes at deep discounts.

Critics say the policy has led to a significant reduction in public housing stocks, a situation in which many former public housing units are now being rented out to tenants whose rent is largely paid with housing benefits at the expense of taxpayers. said to be connected to

Gove says local authorities in Greater Manchester, Leeds, Cornwall and four other regions are cracking down on dishonest landlords who rent poor quality homes to tenants who often pay the majority of their rent with housing allowances. awarded £14 million ($17 million) to support .

Many of these properties are former public housing units that have been sold under purchase rights and are now in the hands of individual landlords.

Gove resigned as Secretary of State for Level Up, Housing and Communities in July in protest of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to resign, but was reappointed last month by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Gove said he plans to introduce a lessee reform bill next year to better protect private tenants.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Chris Summers


Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.