Everyone at RBH is driven by a desire to provide safe and comfortable homes we are proud of. Yet, mistakes have been made. We failed Awaab, his family and the community we serve.
We would like to once again to express our deepest sympathies for the tragic loss of Awaab, and we will forever remain sorry to his family.
Today’s announcement by the Regulator recognises that failure and the mistakes we have made. We accept this judgement and we are already working closely alongside the Regulator to address their concerns and meet their expectations.
We now have a long road ahead of us to regain the trust and confidence of current and future tenants, Rochdale Council, the Rochdale community, and the Regulator.
This journey has already begun. Our new Interim Chief Executive, Yvonne Arrowsmith, has a proven track-record of transforming housing providers, and has made it a priority to listen and respond to tenant feedback.
A new Damp and Mould Taskforce has significantly accelerated remedial work. New translation tools are helping us better communicate with tenants. A £1.2m programme is underway to improve ventilation in every home on the Freehold Estate.
Changes to the membership of the Board have also started, and we can confirm that recruitment for new members, including a new Chair, will commence in January 2023.
The Board remain fully committed to RBH and to the safety and wellbeing of our tenants. Stability is crucial at this time, and therefore the current Board will remain in post whilst recruitment is underway so that an orderly transition and handover can take place with the new appointees in due course.
To further support the governance of the organisation in this interim period, we are currently recruiting Special Advisors on Asset Management and Tenant Services, as well as a new Audit Chair.
All new appointees to the Board will be approved by our Representative Body, and the Body will also be directly involved in the interview process, ensuring tenant voice is at the heart of these decisions.
Awaab’s death is a defining moment for RBH – but also for the wider housing sector. Whilst it should never have taken a tragedy for change to happen, Awaab’s Law must be introduced to ensure there is lasting change.
There are hard lessons to learn: process must never get in the way of people; tenant voice must always be valued; maintenance and property renewal should be prioritised; tenant safety must always be the first and foremost consideration.
As we move forward, our priority is to continue delivering on our improvement plan as quickly as possible so that our homes are safe and comfortable. Under renewed leadership, RBH is determined to rebuild as an effective, responsive, and tenant-focused organisation that has mutuality at its heart.