The accountability vacuum
in Safe as houses
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This chapter focuses on the more sinister side of the outsourced state under PFI that was clearly present in the Grenfell disaster – the ‘accountability vacuum’. It draws on interviews with public and private sector professionals, residents involved in PFI schemes and whistle-blowers to illuminate specific examples of this deficit. It begins by focusing on the lack of public or regulatory scrutiny of PFI contracts that rely on self-certified performance reporting, akin to paying a fox to guard the henhouse. The chapter goes on to explain how poorly written contracts that set largely meaningless ‘key performance indicators’ (KPIs) result in minimal financial penalties despite demonstrable failings. It shows how local authorities prioritise the protection of long-term partnerships with private companies over genuine resident involvement and empowerment, and how resident disempowerment is compounded by the absence of both genuinely independent and powerful regulatory bodies, as well as legal routes that residents could use to get redress. It provides a number of examples of how those who did speak out were routinely ignored and sometimes actively silenced.

Safe as houses

Private greed, political negligence and housing policy after Grenfell

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