Independent inquiry to tackle 'unacceptable' housing conditions set up after ITV News investigation

Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt reports on the long-awaited housing reforms following ITV News' investigation

The National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents more than 800 social housing providers in England, has said it will set up an independent panel to make "urgent recommendations" to tackle poor quality housing.

It comes after the federation, whose members provide homes to around six million people, issued an apology and admitted the sector had let tenants down following an ITV News investigation last year.

“Your investigation has revealed stories that are just completely unacceptable, and I want to say sorry to those residents. They deserve better," the federation's chief executive Kate Henderson said at the time.

'These people have been let down, I am really sorry to them': Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, told ITV News last year

She admitted a "culture change" was needed in social housing, along with "greater accountability, trust and responsiveness between the social landlord and residents".

The federation, along with the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH), reiterated on Wednesday the "unacceptable conditions" faced by some social housing tenants which was exposed by ITV News.

In a joint press release, the two bodies said housing associations were "committed to taking swift and decisive action to fix homes with major quality issues and to start to tackle the root causes of these problems."

Do these reforms go far enough? ITV News Correspondent Dan Hewitt gives his answer

They pledged to bring together a group of people with "expertise and lived experience of social housing to guide the sector on this vital journey."

The panel - which will be led by Helen Baker, chair of the national housing charity Shelter - is to meet over the summer with residents, community leaders and frontline staff to understand more about the problems facing tenants and develop actions housing associations can take to improve.

It will also look at other issues putting pressure on the social housing system, such as overcrowding.

When asked what prompted the move, Ms Henderson said: 'If I'm honest, the intense scrutiny that we've had on the sector. The work ITV News has done in revealing some of the conditions... have really led us to take a really hard look at what's happening'

“Everyone should expect a safe, secure, good quality and affordable home," NHF chief executive Ms Henderson said. “Housing associations play a vital role in every community in the country providing essential social housing. “We know most people have a good experience in their housing association home, but we have clearly seen that this has not been the case for every housing association resident and that is simply not acceptable," Ms Henderson acknowledged.

“The sector wants to learn how these problems have happened and what action they can take to do better."

'You're living in it, there's no way out': In March, Angela Price, a housing association tenant, spoke to ITV News about the stress of living in her home

She added she looked forward to reading the panel's recommendations and working to take the action needed "to make sure every housing association resident can trust that they will live in a secure, good-quality home".

Gavin Smart, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said he welcomed the insight the panel would bring to help social housing associations "fix what is wrong and develop greater trust between landlords and tenants".

In 2021, Daniel Hewitt reported on a man with breathing difficulties forced to live in squalid social housing

He added all social housing tenants "should be able to live in a good quality, well-managed home and be treated with dignity and respect".

"Where this is not the case, we must put that right."

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