CEO of RBH says he 'will not be resigning' and is backed by the board of directors

Date published: 18 November 2022

Gareth Swarbrick, the chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, has released a statement saying he will not resign after the tragic – and preventable – death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak.

Awaab died in December 2020 as a result of a severe respiratory condition due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home, which was managed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing.

In a statement released on Thursday 17 November, Mr Swarbrick said he was "sorry to Awaab's family for their loss" and said "no apology will ever be enough".

Mr Swarbrick said the board of directors at RBH has given him their "full backing and trust" and that the organisation had made a "raft of changes following the death of Awaab".


Awaab Ishak
Awaab Ishak


Mr Swarbricks statement in full:


Councillor Danny Meredith
Councillor Danny Meredith


Rochdale Borough Council's cabinet member for housing, Councillor Daniel Meredith, wrote to Mr Swarbrick urging him to resign.

In the letter, he said: “As the lead member for housing in our borough I feel that I am left with little option but to ask you to reflect on your position. I say this because I have no confidence that you and your board are equipped to win back the confidence of your tenants.”

Speaking on Wednesday (16 November), housing secretary Michael Gove said it “beggared belief” that Mr Swarbrick was still in his £185,000-a-year post, whilst Rochdale MP Sir Tony Lloyd spoke in the House of Commons, saying that “the issue of mould growth in properties both private, social housing etc. is a real one.”

Mr Lloyd added: “This has implications that go way beyond this tragic case of the two-year-old boy in my constituency.”

The chair of the RBH board of directors, Alison Tumilty, also released a statement last night. She said "we extend our deepest sympathies and say sorry to Faisal and Aisha" and that RBH "let them down". She also said that the organisation will "continue conversations with Michael Gove and the Housing Ombudsman to discuss what happened to Awaab"

Ms Tumilty's statement in full:


The Housing Ombudsman, Richard Blakeway, has written to Mr Swarbrick, following the coroner’s verdict.

The Ombudsman has reviewed the current casework about the landlord and instructed his team to expedite three investigations.

For the first time, the investigation team will use a power in the Housing Ombudsman Scheme that enables them to gather any information required including interviews with staff.

The letter also says he will also be exercising his powers to carry out a further investigation to see if this complaint is “indicative of wider failure within the landlord.”

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