Gove’s plan to have qualifications for social housing managers spits in the face of residents

Social housing in Hackney, as Housing Rebellion take action against landlords
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Michael Gove has announced that social housing managers will have to study for qualifications. This comes after the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak due to the mould in his flat. Gove said:

The Grenfell Tower tragedy and, more recently, the death of Awaab Ishak showed the devastating consequences of residents inexcusably being let down by poor performing landlords who consistently failed to listen to them.

We know that many social housing residents are not receiving the service or respect they deserve.

Gove, apparently, is labouring under the delusion that landlords and social housing managers just need to be trained not to kill Black and brown people in their properties.

Obvious problems

Several people took to social media to explain the obvious problems with Gove’s ridiculous suggestion. Journalist Lorraine King pointed out the danger of such qualifications, as well as the shocking conditions Awaab died in:

Unison convenor John Gray said the proposed reforms will do little to fix bad housing:

MP Diane Abbott blamed government underfunding:

You might also wonder what else the genius Gove is up to. Well, he’s suggested that parents whose children don’t attend school could have their benefits cut:

That’s hardly the suggestion of a man sensitive to the outrageous living conditions in social housing. He’s certainly not shown anything to suggest that he might have a compassionate and reasonable outlook on struggling residents and parents. However, let’s lay it out for him anyway.

Trail of malicious incompetence

The deadly incompetence that caused Awaab’s death was followed by more bullshit. A post-mortem examination found fungus in the two-year-old’s blood and lungs. A property inspection two days after Awaab’s death found it unfit for human habitation. In spite of this, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) – which was responsible for Awaab’s family home – refused to rehouse his family. RBH were accused of racism towards the family both before and after his death.

Gove brought up the Grenfell fire as another reason that legislation around social housing needs to be changed. Indeed, at the time of Awaab’s death Grenfell United offered their condolences and urged change:

Gove himself was forced to apologise for the lack of action in the aftermath of Grenfell:

Again, I want to apologise to the bereaved, to relatives and survivors for the fact that the Government over the last five years has sometimes been too slow in acting… sometimes we have behaved in a way which has been insensitive.

Gove’s suggestion that social housing managers have to undergo training spits in the face of campaigners who’ve long had to reckon with sub-standard housing and an indifferent government. How will training change the fact that most social housing isn’t fit to live in? How will training change extensive government underfunding? Does Gove intend to train landlords to consider Black and brown people to be humans who have a right to life?

If anything can be learned from the inaction after Grenfell, it’s that this government doesn’t care about people like Awaab. It won’t fund the housing sector properly. It’s not interested in providing mould-free and safe housing. The government just wants to help landlords make a quick buck. If a few hundred people burn to death, or a toddler dies with fungus in his lungs, so what?

Featured image by Unsplash/Ben Allan

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