Safe as houses

Private greed, political negligence and housing policy after Grenfell

By Stuart Hodkinson

Safe as houses


  • eBook
  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2998-7
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £11.99
  • Published Date: March 2019
  • BIC Category: Urban Communities, Human Geography, Housing & homelessness, Disaster control & fire protection law, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Economy, LAW / Housing & Urban Development, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, Economics, finance, business & management / Political economy, Offences against public health, safety, order, News media & journalism
  • Series: Manchester Capitalism


As the tragedy of the Grenfell tower fire has slowly revealed a shadowy background of outsourcing, private finance initiatives and a council turning a blind eye to health and safety concerns, many questions need answers.

Stuart Hodkinson has those answers. He has worked for the last decade with residents groups in council regeneration projects across London. As residents have been shifted out of 60s and 70s social housing to make way for higher rent paying newcomers, they have been promised a higher quality of housing. Councils have passed the responsibility for this housing to private consortia who amazingly have been allowed to self-regulate on quality and safety. Residents have been ignored for years on this and only now are we hearing the truth. Stuart will weave together his research on PFIs, regulation and resident action to tell the whole story of how Grenfell happened and how this could easily have happened in multiple locations across the country.


'A timely and important book, exposing how private profit and reckless privatisation have caused unspeakable tragedies to social housing in this country.'
David Lammy MP

'Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the outsourcing - for which read privatisation - of social housing over the last 30 years. Hodkinson explains how this, above all, is the root cause of the Grenfell Fire and exposes how it is just the tip of the iceberg of what is happening to housing in the UK.'
Anna Minton, Reader in Architecture at the University of East London and author of Big Capital: Who is London for?

'Including both previously undocumented details of PFI in housing, and the voices of residents whose health and well-being have been impacted by the process, this book sets out a crucial part of the story of housing privatisation in the uk. This is a hugely important and powerful book, essential reading for scholars, campaigners, policy makers, or anyone with an interest in housing provision.'
Pilgrim Tucker, community organiser and campaigner who supported the Grenfell Tower Residents campaign, the Grenfell Action Group

Stuart Hodkinson's book offers a searing exposé of the policy choices which made Grenfell 'a disaster foretold'. Combining forensic detail and righteous anger, he describes the multi-faceted attack on public housing and its ethos which underlay this man-made tragedy - privatisation and reliance on a profit-driven private sector, deregulation, and the marginalisation of tenants' voices and interests. Closely-argued analysis of three PFI schemes - 'outsourcing on steroids' in his words - further demonstrates the destructive dynamics of this larger story. Hodkinson concludes with a powerful demand to empower residents, restore regulation and revive public housing. A close reading of this must-read book make it hard to disagree.'
John Boughton, author of Municipal Dreams:The Rise and Fall of Council Housing

'This is an intricately researched, powerfully written, dramatic and sometimes painful analysis of how private interests have denatured social housing, always tethered to the experiences of the people who live in it. It's a brilliant, insightful and very human study.'
Zoe Williams, the Guardian journalist


List of boxes, figures and tables
List of abbreviations
Introduction: Grenfell and the return of 'social murder'
1 Privatisation and the death of public housing
2 Outsourcing on steroids: regeneration meets the Private Finance Initiative
3 Partners for improvement? Corporate vandalism in Islington and Camden
4 Not fit for purpose: the Myatts Field North PFI horror show
5 The accountability vacuum
6 Follow the money: who profits and how
7 After Grenfell: safe and secure homes for all
Appendix 1 List of formal interviews cited in book


Stuart Hodkinson is Associate Professor in Critical Urban Geography at the University of Leeds

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