Robert Jenrick 'disgusted' by images from ITV News council housing report but adds 'it's not emblematic of wider sector'

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said he is "disgusted" by the images revealed by ITV News' Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt's report on council housing in Croydon, south London.

Speaking at the National Housing Summit, Mr Jenrick said: "I was disgusted by the images that I saw from that reporting by ITV, I hope and believe that that is an unusual situation but nobody in this country should be living in those conditions, whether in the private rental sector or the social sector.

"Everyone has the right to live in a decent home, and I think most importantly, when people raise the alarm, when complaints are made, they must be treated properly."

He added: "And to see residents who are living in those conditions who are then raising their arm and asking people to come and fix it and it not happening was frankly shameful." 

His comments come after ITV News revealed the dangerous squalor Croydon residents have been living in, despite repeated calls to the council for repairs.

Since 2019, residents of the block on Regina Road in South Norwood have been complaining to their landlord, Croydon Council, of leaks in their flats - leaks that made their homes uninhabitable.

  • See the appalling and dangerous conditions some people in a tower block in Croydon have been forced to live in for months

ITV News' Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt writes: "It is impossible to put into words the appalling conditions we found people living in, in Croydon, south London.

"Not even the pictures you can see below do justice to the dangerous squalor residents, some of them young children, have been forced to endure for months."

Fransoy Hewitt, who lives on the ground floor with her two sons, aged five and seven, started noticing damp and mould 18 months ago.

She has shown ITV News evidence of contacting the council in October 2019 to inform them of a leak in the flat.

Fransoy used the baby bath to catch dripping water. Credit: ITV News

She continued to complain throughout 2020, and despite visits from the repair team in that time, the mould and damp have got worse.

The mother of two said the way she's been treated "makes me feel like I am not even human", before adding: "I'm not coping."

"There is only so much I can get angry, and pull my hair out - I just feel like I'm going to kill myself if I continue like that." 

The housing secretary said he hopes the "shameful" housing practises will be removed.

Mr Jenrick said: "I hope those practises will be rooted out, I've certainly made contact with Croydon council and asked for an explanation as to how that could've happened." 

He added he does not think the conditions of the social housing in Croydon are representative of the whole of the UK.

"I don't think it's emblematic of the wider sector that the housing associations and social landlords are no doubt on this call today share my disbelief at the way those residents are treated but we need to make sure that doesn't happen again," he said.  

Croydon council leader Hamida Ali admitted she cannot know for sure there aren't other tower blocks dealing with the same issues.

"All 16 of the similar blocks in the borough will be reviewed and looked at as part of this inquiry," she told ITV News.

"It needs to be very quick, I’ve asked for it to be completed within two weeks and we absolutely need that confidence.

"I can’t answer that question here and that is not acceptable and that is precisely why this action is being taken."

Cllr Ali was asked five times if she is personally ashamed to be leading a council that presided over these living conditions.

Finally, she admitted she is.