Statement from the Greater Manchester Tenants Union on the investigation into death of Awaab Ishaak.
The rot starts at the top. Swarbrick must go.
Awaab Ishak and his family's suffering were ignored by RBH, who tried to blame 'cultural factors'. While Awaab's family were grieving, RBH bosses enjoyed massive pay hikes.
From the end of March 2019 to April 2021 Chief executive of RBH, Gareth Swarbrick's total pay package, including pension contributions, rose from £144,000 a year to £185,000.
The circumstances of the death of little Awaab are simply shocking, a vulnerable family, looking for safety and support in Rochdale were treated with dismissive, bullying behaviour from RBH as a whole, who even used racist assumptions about 'cultural practices' to blame the family for damp.
The inquest heard how RBH workers assumed the family were carrying out 'ritual bathing' involving a 'bucket' which was leading to excess water on the bathroom floor. But workers never asked the family directly about this, and Mr Abdullah told the court his family showered, and such 'rituals' were not in his family's 'culture'.
RBH ignored Health visitors' and medical advice, and this high handed attitude is all too common from RBH. Ever since the stock transfer in 2012 the Board of RBH led by Gareth Swarbrick have ridden roughshod over the community, their opinions and views, whilst voting themselves huge increases in salary.
Greater Manchester Tenants Union have had a branch in Rochdale for 3 years. A large proportion of this time has been opposing the unaccountable power of RBH, their working practices and their decisions, including holding hundreds of good homes empty for demolition on College Bank and Lower Falinge for years.
They state they are run by tenants and employees but the facts are rather different, a small clique of senior management, none of whom live in the Borough, make decisions about the future of our social housing unilaterally.
Awaab and his family deserve justice. Someone needs to be held to account. The coroner's verdict did not go far enough in establishing this. They refuse to say sorry, they refuse to take the blame. Swarbrick “learning hard lessons” isn't enough.
The credibility of RBH is gone. From their efforts to socially cleanse College Bank to their failure to adequately care for their vulnerable tenants it is clear that this situation cannot go on.
We call for justice for Awaab, and the resignation of disgraced Chief executive, Gareth Swarsbrick.
We also call on the government to make the resources available to bring social housing up to acceptable standards. A decade of austerity and systematic underfunding lies beneath this tragic case.