Awaab Ishak: Statement from Awaab Ishak’s family after meeting with Secretary of State for Housing

25 November 2022

Awaab Ishak

The family of Awaab Ishak met with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, yesterday. The family issued the following statement through Farleys Solicitors.

‘The family would like to thank Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and his team for making the time to meet them in Rochdale today.

‘The meeting was productive and the family are hopeful and closely watching to see that the meaningful changes promised by Michael Gove come about.

‘There were three asks the family entered this meeting with. We are pleased that the Secretary of State has provided his backing to all 3 of these asks, which we will share with you now.

‘Our first ask related to legislation.

‘The Social Housing Regulation Bill is currently going through Parliament. We can confirm that Michael Gove has provided his support to this.

‘The family are pushing for the implementation of an ‘Awaab’s Law’ to ensure that no other family go through what they have been through. Awaab’s Law would significantly improve the experiences of those living with mould and damp in their properties and is therefore crucial. We are pleased that the Secretary of State has provided his support for an ‘Awaab’s Law.’

‘The family are acutely aware that, during a time of tragedy, politicians often will make positive comments – but change does not always follow. Therefore, the family are pleased that Michael Gove has agreed to provide progress reports, both to the family, and to the nation, of changes being made.

‘Michael Gove has agreed to come back to Rochdale and meet the family in 6 months’ time to personally update them on progress.

‘In addition, he has agreed to provide regular updates to the public – advising of his changes, so that a tragedy of this nature can never happen again. He has agreed to do this on a monthly basis at minimum. He also agrees with us that these updates must be in a format that is easily accessible and understandable to the everyday member of the public.

‘Finally – the Coroner produced a comprehensive Prevention of Future Deaths report at the close of Awaab Ishak’s inquest. The Secretary of State has confirmed to the family that he will deal with the matters raised in this report in full.

‘The family are encouraged by Michael Gove’s remarks, however are keen for what took place in the meeting to be read out in public. This is in an effort to assure not only others living in social housing, but also the public, are able to hold the Secretary of State and the Government, to account.

‘The family would also like to take this moment to make their thoughts clear in relation to RBH’s leadership. The family have no confidence in RBH’s board. They call for the board’s resignation and believe that, while the current board remains, there is an ever-present risk and danger to RBH tenants. The family are struggling to grapple with the fact that, while grieving the loss of their child, RBH were expressing confidence in their CEO. They also cannot understand why it took so long for RBH to, in any way, acknowledge that it was wrong for them to have made “assumptions” about the lifestyle of Mr Abdullah and Ms Amin – particularly given the Coroner’s findings.

‘RBH have immediate and urgent issues that need to be addressed to ensure the safety of their tenants. The family do not feel this board has the competence or credibility to do the job. This is a view that has been expressed by many.

‘An adjournment debate, initiated by Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, will be taking place in relation to Awaab and RBH this evening in Parliament. The family would encourage the public to watch the debate and continue to apply pressure on the Government.

‘The family once again, wish to express their thanks for the love and support that has been shown. They felt ignored by RBH, but feel warmed that the public are listening. They would also encourage the public to go to change.org and sign the petition for an Awaab’s Law.’

The family of Awaab Ishak are represented by Kelly Darlington of Farleys Solicitors and Christian Weaver of our inquests and inquiries team.

Read more: Housing disrepair: landlord responsibilities and how to take action

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