Michael Gove admits ‘at least tens of thousands of UK homes are unsafe to live in’

Michael Gove has said “at least tens of thousands” of homes in the UK are unsafe to live in, after the tragic death of a two-year-old due to poor housing conditions.Speaking on Thursday, the Housing and Levelling Up Secretary said a large number of homes need urgent repair and maintenance as they do not meet adequate living standards.The issue has come into view following the death of Awaab Ishak. The two-year-old died in 2020 due to black mould in the flat he lived in with his parents.Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Gove said: “I fear it’s the case that there are tens of thousands of properties that are not in the state that they should be.”Pressed if tens of thousands was correct, he said: “Yes, at least.”Read MoreBefore adding: “We know there are a significant number of properties – some of which were built in the 60s and 70s and are in poor conditions, but some of which have been poorly maintained – that simply need to be properly repaired and properly maintained.“The problem is across the UK and England, there are tenants in homes which have not been looked after properly and that is why we have a strict set of rules on what people should accept in the social renter sector.”Awaab Ishak who died in December 2020 / PAFollowing an inquest, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), who manage the property Awaab had lived in, sacked chief executive Gareth Swarbrick on Saturday.Mr Swarbrick, who earnt £170,000 in the year of Awaab’s death, had initially refused to resign from his position at RBH.Accompanying the removal of Mr Swarbrick, the housing association also pledged to make further improvements following the conclusion of the inquest earlier this month.Despite this, Mr Gove said the housing association will not receive additional £1million in funding which they had requested in order to expand until they bring standards up to a “decent” level.He added: “I’m going to Rochdale later today in order to talk to them and talk to others about the situation there but my view at the moment is this organisation does not deserve to get this additional funding.”Asked if the organisation should still be operating at all, he said: “I’m going to talk to them later today.“I’ve had conversations already with the chair of the organisation and conversations with the outgoing chief executive and I want to see the situation on the ground.”If the penny has dropped, if the organisation is ready to learn appropriate lessons to improve and there are signs they fully appreciate the need to improve, we will work with them, and indeed with Rochdale council, in order to make improvements.”