Dr David Etherington and Melanie Henwood respond to the Grenfell inquiry terms, David Hickey recalls the government response to Aberfan, and Dr Stephen Battersby makes the case for tackling rogue landlords
With reference to your report on the Grenfell inquiry terms of reference, it is crucial, as argued by Justice for Grenfell and your editorial, that the provision, financing and allocation of social housing is put under the spotlight (Grenfell fire inquiry will not consider bigger picture, 16 August). Such an investigation would include an analysis of the impact of austerity and particularly welfare reforms.
The benefit cap is set at a level that places more and more individuals and families in a precarious financial situation, and for many abject poverty. Benefit delays resulting from the rollout of universal credit are having the same effect. The knock-on impact on social housing is significant. More and more people are falling into rent arrears and homelessness. A national housing organisation has stated that a couple with three children will not be able to afford the average housing association rent on a three-bed property in any region. The weekly shortfall under a £20,000 cap ranges from £37.40 in Yorks and Humberside to £67.35 in the south-east. They estimate that the cap will impact on 205,000 households, which will lower 200,000 children below the poverty line, with the biggest group affected being working families with three children.