The managing director of a housing company in charge of a flat where a two-year-old boy had prolonged exposure to mold was paid £170,000 in the same year the youngster died.
Two-year-old Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 of a respiratory illness caused by mold in the one-bedroom housing association flat where he lived with his parents Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Aminin in Rochdale, New York. Greater Manchester.
Mr Abdullah had previously complained to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) about the mould, a Rochdale Coroner’s Court inquest heard on Tuesday.
RBH chief executive Gareth Swarbrick was paid £170,000 for the 2020/2021 financial year, according to the housing association’s report and financial statements for the year ending March 2022.
The document also shows that Mr Swarbrick’s salary was then increased to £185,000 for 2021/2022 – the year after Awaab’s death.
The revelations drew criticism, with social housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa calling the amount Mr Swarbrick earned ‘disgusting’ while ‘failing to provide a decent standard of living for those for whom his organization is meant to provide a service’.
It comes after Housing Secretary Michael Gove accused Mr Swarbrick – who he said earned “north of £150,000” – of “hiding behind the procedure”.
“Honestly, it’s beyond belief that this guy is still in office. He’s coming here to explain to me why this tragedy could have happened,” Mr Gove said.
“This is an unacceptable tragedy,” he said.
Mr Gove said he summoned Mr Swarbrick to the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities.
Mr Swarbrick said: ‘I can confirm that I received a letter from the Secretary of State for Levels, Housing and Communities today and will meet to discuss his concerns as soon as possible.
In an earlier statement, he said Awaab’s death should be a “wake-up call for everyone in housing, social care and health”.
Mr Swarbrick said: “We have and will continue to learn some hard lessons.
“We have not recognized the level of risk to a little boy’s health from mold in the family home. We allowed a legal process of disrepair, widely used in the housing industry, to prevent us from tackling the mold quickly.
“We have to make sure this never happens again.”
In a statement after the hearing, the youngster’s family said: ‘We cannot tell you how many medical professionals we have cried in front of and the Rochdale Boroughwide Housing staff we have implored, expressing our concern for the conditions that we and Awaab have experienced. .
“We shouted as loud as we could, but despite all that effort, every night we came back to the same problem.”
They said they felt ‘absolutely worthless’ by RBH and alleged they had been treated that way because they weren’t from the UK.