Housing groups to fill gaps left by Grenfell inquiry

18 Aug 17

Housing umbrella bodies are looking to explore social housing policy issues arising from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.  

The Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation are examining how they can fill the gap that will not be covered by the government-ordered public inquiry, although PF understands the two bodies are currently working separately.

Issues to be covered could include the role of social housing now and in the future, how it is funded and public and government understanding of it.  

Head of the public inquiry Sir Martin Moore-Bick drew criticism when he said in August that he would not include wider social policy while looking into the causes of the blaze.

A consultation had revealed people wanted him to examine this and the relationship between tenants and the landlord of Grenfell Tower, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

But, in his terms of reference for the inquiry, released in August, Moore-Bick wrote that on “careful reflection” he had decided it was “not the best way” forward.  

This was because “there is an obvious need for my inquiry to complete its work as quickly as possible” and that the “inclusion of such broad questions within the scope of the inquiry would raise questions of a social, economic and political nature, which in my view are not suitable for a judge-led inquiry”.

Debbie Larner, head of practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, told PF: “Though we understand the rationale for the wider implications on social housing not being covered in the scope of this inquiry this is an absolutely crucial consideration and we are already considering the part we can play in examining these issues further in light of the tragedy.”

The NHF said: “We will be picking up the wider conversation about social housing the with government.”

It added: “We are also looking at the wider implications for the whole [social housing] sector.”

Prime minister Theresa May acknowledged the need for a wider debate on social housing in a letter of reply to Moore-Bick.

May wrote she understood “the concern about the suitability of considering such broader issues in a judge-led inquiry”.

She pledged the government would “consider how best to address the issues of social housing you have raised”.

“What is clear is there are a number of concerns which have gone unheard for too long,” she wrote.

Announcements on exploring tenants’ concerns would be made “shortly”, she promised.

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