KATE OSBORNE: It’s a disgrace that people are having to live this way

In the wake of the tragic death of a two-year-old boy from Rochdale who died from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to persistent black mould on the walls of his family’s social housing rented home, it’s little surprise that a number of Jarrow families have contacted me with serious concerns about their housing.

Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove. Picture: James Manning/PA Wire
Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove. Picture: James Manning/PA Wire

Lawrence is one. He suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and is living in a housing association property full of damp and black and green mould. The walls are wet to touch, and he is understandably extremely worried for his health.

Yet, despite reporting these conditions last year and being told action would be taken, nothing has happened.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Shockingly, NHS England spends at least £1.3 billion a year on treating preventable illnesses caused by cold and damp homes.

It’s a disgrace that people are having to live this way.

I’ve written to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, demanding urgent action, a commitment to a new Decent Homes Standard enforceable in law – that covers the private sector as well as council and social housing and for funding to enable local authorities to tackle landlords who refuse to carry out repairs.

It’s disgusting that the current standard excludes the private sector, despite almost a third of the 1.2 million private renter households across the north of England living in “non-decent” standard homes, according to a Northern Housing Consortium report.

I’ve also written to South Tyneside Council Leader Tracey Dixon, Gateshead Council Leader Martin Gannon and Paul Mains, Managing Director of South Tyneside Homes, to ask what help they are providing to residents to tackle substandard housing.

No one should be living in these conditions. With a deepening cost of living crisis and soaring energy bills, more and more households are being forced to leave their heating off – just as temperatures plummet – if they are to have any chance of putting food in their children’s bellies.

Renters must be protected this winter, and there’s no time to lose. Gove’s suggestion that private sector reform proposals may come in 2023 will be too late for many.

If you have an issue with mould and damp in your home and are living in the Jarrow constituency please email me at [email protected] or contact my office on 0191 4661509. I am here to help where I can.