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Housing Crisis Shelter launches commission into Britain's social housing

The charity is concerned about the treatment of social tenants in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster

HOUSING charity Shelter is setting up a high-profile commission to scrutinise social housing in Britain.

The homelessness charity has launched the project after concerns about the treatment of social tenants were brought into focus by the Grenfell Tower disaster last June.

The Rev Mike Long, from Notting Hill Methodist Church, which sits at the foot of Grenfell Tower, will serve as chairman of the commission, running until October, the charity said. Members will oversee research with social housing tenants, an online public consultation and roadshows across the country. They include Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, former Labour leader Ed Miliband and peers Sayeeda Warsi and Jim O'Neill.

They will be joined by Edward Daffarn, author of the Grenfell Action Group blog from November 2016 that predicted that fire would destroy the tower if Kensington & Chelsea Council continued to ignore residents’ safety concerns. His blog was among a catalogue of warnings about fire safety ignored by council officials and building managers.

Mr Daffarn, who is also a member of the survivors and bereaved group Grenfell United, said: “Everyone who lived in Grenfell Tower knows just how devastating the consequences are when the wellbeing 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.”

A report to be written by the commission with recommendations to be presented to Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn before the end of the year.

Nationally, almost half of families in social housing have felt ignored or been refused help with unsafe conditions, according to Shelter’s research, based on two surveys conducted by YouGov of 3,014 adults. The charity hopes the work of the commission will give such tenants a “far louder” voice in the future of public housing policy.

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