Ed Miliband: “We’ve failed to deliver the social housing this country needs”

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband joins Grenfell survivor Edward Daffarn and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi on Shelter's new Social Housing Commission

A national conversation about Social Housing is being launched by Shelter. And we’re all invited to take part.

The debate into the future of social housing will be led by a panel of 17 commissioners chaired by Grenfell community leader Reverend Mike Long.

Joining him are big hitters including former Labour leader Ed Miliband, former Conservative Party chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, and campaigner Baroness Doreen Lawrence, alongside Edward Daffarn from survivors and bereaved group Grenfell United.

This commission is a huge opportunity to build a great consensus for a transformation of housing provision

Launching the commission, Reverend 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.”

Shelter and YouGov revealed new research showing that challenges described by Grenfell residents in the aftermath of last June’s tragic fire are faced by social housing communities across England.

  • 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

Miliband 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.”

Baroness Warsi added: “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. 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.”

We’re ready to listen. To tenants, people on waiting lists, and the wider community

Grenfell survivor Edward Daffarn documented management failings in the years before the fire.

He 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.

The Human Cost of the Housing Crisis

“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.”

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Shelter will take the results of their inquiry to the Labour and Conservative leaders. But first, they are asking for input from across England.

“In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, many social housing tenants say they feel ignored – and this isn’t unique to Grenfell. Across the country, many communities and tenants don’t feel their views count – and that often, they’re treated as second-class citizens.

“But we’re ready to listen. To tenants, people on waiting lists, and the wider community. We want as many voices as possible to be heard. And we want a bold plan for change, which we’ll deliver directly to Prime Minister Theresa May, and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.”

The commission’s report will be delivered by the end of the year.