Eva Watkinson
Eva Watkinson

By Eva Watkinson

Grenfell Tower Fire update

It’s over four months since the fire at Grenfell Tower. It claimed at least 80 lives, devastated a community, and shocked the country.

Since it happened we’ve been working with those affected, as well as campaigning for the long-term changes needed to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

Just after the fire, thousands of Shelter supporters contacted their MPs to demand that the community in West London – who have pulled together to care for each other – got the support they needed. Four months later, what progress has been made on the key issues you raised?

Rehousing people affected

Immediately after the fire, we called for all residents to be rehoused in accordance with their wishes. We know that this process is taking far longer than it should have, and four months on just over half of households (112) have accepted offers of either permanent or temporary accommodation – but only 58 have moved.

We’ll be keeping up the pressure to make sure that all those affected, from the building itself or the surrounding area, get the support they need now and in the future.

Immigration status

In the early days after the fire, concern about immigration status was a key thing that we heard may have prevented some people from coming forward. This could have had a huge impact not only on individuals who were not then able to access much-needed support, but also in hearing their evidence on what happened both before and after the fire.

In a big change from its previous position, the government changed its policy so those affected who feared deportation will now have a path to permanent residency in the UK. This isn’t perfect, but it is progress.

The next steps 

We’ll be in touch soon with next steps for the campaign. Over the next few months, we’ve got a key opportunity to get a change in the law that could make it easier for residents to hold their landlords to account. The ‘Fitness for Human Habitation Bill’, which, if it had been in place in the form it’s now proposed, could’ve given Grenfell residents a meaningful route to address the concerns they raised over and over again, will be debated in parliament. We’ll be campaigning hard to make sure it becomes law.

We’ll also make sure there is a full discussion on the national issues that have been bought to light. Since the fire it’s become clearer than ever that there is not enough protection for tenants. So we’re carrying out a complete review of the gaps in the law that contributed to this terrible tragedy to help shine a light on what needs to change.

Tenants across the UK, especially those in tower blocks that have failed safety tests, are waiting every day to learn what changes will be brought about. Over the coming months and years, we’ll carry on campaigning hard to bring about real change, to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

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