Grenfell Tower inquiry is a ‘complete betrayal’ of victims

The Grenfell Tower disaster, which claimed at least 80 lives in June, is a devastating illustration of the UK’s failing social housing system. Grenfell Tower, the remains of which are in one of richest boroughs in the country (Kensington and Chelsea), was a part of one of the city’s many underprivileged housing estates. We saw the poor living alongside the rich in starkly dissimilar conditions. Grenfell tenants had for years been raising safety concerns with the council, all to no avail. The reality is that safe and secure housing was no longer being viewed as a right, but instead a luxury reserved for the privileged.

The last few years has seen a decrease in government support for social housing, with state-funded rented properties plunging by 97% since 2010. Consequently, many low-income families have been forced to spend a larger fraction of their wages on poorer quality rented housing, with jumping onto the property ladder being out of the question.

With the government’s support for social housing being dejected, we have been left with the more “favourable” choice of having private development projects taking priority.

Therefore, the aftermath of the disaster saw former Grenfell Tower residents demanding a public inquiry into the atrocity that was to leave “no stone unturned.” It would be imperative to identify the cause of the tragedy, in addition to an explanation for the council’s delayed response.

Why then has Teresa May omitted social housing policy in the terms of reference for the inquiry? With only a portion of the Grenfell families having been rehoused, surely social housing must come into question. Is it a coincidence that majority of those who died in the fire were of ethnic minorities? No. It is a question that has been asked far too many times to go unanswered.

The fact that the inquiry fails to recognise the wider issues surrounding social housing, from race and religion, to the socioeconomic ramifications of austerity, means that the findings will not be as thorough as many people had hoped for. Kensington MP Emma Coad has described the outcome as “a complete betrayal of everything we were promised”, dishonouring the bereaved families and survivors.

By appointing narrow terms to the reference and ignoring the broader concerns, we will fail to understand how and why people were neglected in this avoidable tragedy – how and why individuals were left to die at the hands of a housing system that has placed profit above people.








Source: The Independent

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