Shelter launches new social housing commission

Posted 23 Jan 2018

Housing charity Shelter will today launch a commission into the future of social housing to address crucial issues which have been highlighted by the Grenfell Tower Fire, as new research highlights the challenges faced by those living in social housing in getting their voice and views heard.

The commission will aim to give social housing tenants across the country, starting with the Grenfell community itself, a far louder say in the future of social housing.

Chaired by Reverend Mike Long of the Notting Hill Methodist Church near Grenfell, Shelter has brought together a panel of key figures to examine the state of social housing in modern Britain and its future role in ending the housing crisis.

Among others, they include Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Ed Miliband MP, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Lord Jim O’Neill and Grenfell tower survivor Edward Daffarn.

Highlighting the need for the commission, Shelter and YouGov revealed new research today showing that many of the challenges described by Grenfell residents in the aftermath of the tragic fire are faced by social housing communities right across England:

A series of roadshows will be held across the country, a public consultation will take place online, and a major piece of research with social housing tenants will be carried out. An independent report carrying recommendations will be presented to the prime minister and to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn before the end of the year.

  • Almost half (48%) of families in social housing who reported issues around poor or unsafe conditions felt ignored or were refused help. Problems included fire safety, gas leaks, electrical hazards, mould and pest problems, among others

  • Almost a quarter (24%) of families in social housing said they feel looked down on because of where they live, compared with only 8% of families who are private renters or homeowners

Commission chair Reverend Mike Long said: 'I hope this commission will hold a mirror up to society. 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.'

Commissioner Ed Miliband MP said: 'We have failed for too many years to deliver the social housing this country needs in the way people need it. This commission is a huge opportunity to build a great consensus for a transformation of housing provision and to respond to the rightful demand for change which followed the Grenfell tower tragedy.'Commissioner Baroness Warsi said: 'Social housing is a key part of how we build strong, cohesive communities and give the most vulnerable a chance for a home. Getting our communities to work means getting social housing right, and we need to start this by making sure the voice of those who need social housing is properly heard in our national life. That’s what this commission will try to do.'

Commissioner Edward Daffarn, from the survivors and bereaved group Grenfell United, said: 'Everyone who lived in Grenfell Tower knows just how devastating the consequences are when the well being of social housing tenants and leaseholders are disregarded – more than 70 members of our community needlessly lost their lives in a wholly avoidable tragedy. If we are ever to achieve any kind of justice and recompense for what happened, it will come through genuine social change and by ensuring that people living in social housing will never again be treated like second-class citizens or experience such neglect and institutional indifference at the hands of housing providers. Grenfell United hopes that this independent commission may act as a catalyst for the social change this is needed for our community and for the whole country.'

To find out more about 'Shelter's Big Conversation' on social housing, please go to www.shelter.org.uk/bigconversation.

Notes to editors:

The commission is organised by housing charity Shelter, but will independently report into the commissioners. It will run until October, when a report will be presented to party leaders.

The full list of commissioners is below. Photos and bios are available on request:

  • Reverend Mike Long – Notting Hill Methodist Church (chair)

  • Baroness Doreen Lawrence – peer and social justice campaigner

  • Lord Jim O’Neill – Former Conservative Treasury Minister

  • Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – Conservative peer and first Muslim cabinet member

  • Ed Miliband MP – former secretary of state, and leader of the opposition

  • George Clarke – broadcaster and architect

  • Dame Louise Casey* – former senior civil servant and homelessness tsar

  • Gavin Kelly – chief executive, Resolution Group, and chair of the Living Wage Commission

  • Miatta Fahnbulleh – chief executive, New Economics Foundation

  • Ryan Shorthouse – director, Bright Blue think tank

  • Jo Miller – president of SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers)

  • Faiza Shaheen – director of Class

  • Raji Hunjan – chief executive of Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

  • Edward Daffarn – Grenfell survivor and representative of Grenfell United

  • Samia Badani – chair of A4G Residents Advisory Panel

  • Rob Gershon – social housing resident and activist

  • David Tovey – social housing resident and artist

*Subject to ACOBA approval

Research notes: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Data was collected in two surveys:

  • English social renters: Total sample size was 1,009 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22–29 November 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all England social renters (aged 18+)

  • English adults: Total sample size was 2005 adults, of which 1,011 are owner occupiers and 324 are private renters. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24–27 November 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)

  • Families are defined as households including at least one child

  • Families who responded that they had reported an issue with their home and that it had not been resolved (191) were asked to select the contributing factor that best applied