The Queen’s Speech, which included the announcement of a new planning bill to facilitate the construction of more new homes, completely failed to address the ongoing battle being faced by the families of Grenfell Tower victims, leaving them feeling ‘betrayed’ by the government.
The Queen’s Speech made no mention of proposals to protect tenants and make landlords more accountable for improving the fire safety of highrise buildings, despite a government whitepaper from November 2020 still waiting to be passed through parliament.
It was expected that the Queen’s Speech would finally bring forward the proposals originally outlined in the whitepaper, including the legal right to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all social housing, and “regular inspections of landlords to ensure they are sticking to fire protection rules and investigating tenants’ complaints properly”.
Having been left out of the speech, we’re left to assume that the whitepaper won’t be discussed in parliament any time soon which means thousands of families up and down the UK are going to have to wait even longer to find out what, if any help, the government is going to give them.
Grenfell United, a group of survivors and the relatives of victims from the Grenfell Tower fire, said that, by leaving the bill out of the speech, the government is demonstrating a “disinterest in our housing crisis”.
Why the omission?
As if ignoring the whitepaper wasn’t enough, Grenfell United says that the Tories’ decision to include a different property bill – The Planning Bill – ‘is a betrayal of the legacy we are so committed to achieve’.
Rather than help the survivors and bereaved families, the government seems to have directed resources towards its push for more homeownership up and down the UK. It begs the question, will groups like Grenfell United ever be given the help they’re asking for, or will the whole episode be ignored until it is finally consigned to the history books?
With the government apparently reluctant to confront the issue right now, the burden has been handed to pressure groups and opposition parties – they are the only ones who can hold the government accountable and make sure this scandal doesn’t get brushed under the carpet.