This year, 14 June marks the fifth anniversary of the fire at Grenfell Tower
Following the fire, tenants told Shelter’s independent commission what needs to change. Ever since, we’ve been campaigning alongside Grenfell United, commissioner Rob Gershon and others for meaningful change to deliver well-managed homes for all social renters. On Wednesday, we came another step closer: the long-awaited Social Housing Regulation Bill was introduced to Parliament.
This coming Tuesday, the community around Grenfell Tower will pause to reflect and remember the 72 loved ones lost.
Beyond next week, the fight for a better system will resume. Shelter and many others will continue campaigning to ensure the bill is as robust as possible, as it passes through Parliament over the coming months.
Time to remember
Driven by injustice, the bereaved, survivors and residents have fought tirelessly for five long years for meaningful change, not only to honour the memory of their loved ones but so that social tenants never again have to face a similar tragedy. Still, that fight goes on.
But while the campaigning will continue beyond next week, the anniversary is a day to pause. It’s a day to remember the 72 people who lost their lives. And to show solidarity and love to their families, friends and the wider community.
We encourage everyone who can, to join the silent walk and show support and solidarity with the community on this day of remembrance. The walk will be gathering at the Notting Hill Methodist Church at 6pm. You can sign up and share the Facebook event here.
The anniversary is undoubtedly a traumatic time for many. There will be a host of wellbeing-related activities happening locally for community members and those affected by the events of five years ago. For those in the local area, you can find many of those activities listed in the Grenfell Wellbeing Service’s online booklet.
Time to deliver
Five long years has been too long a wait for the government’s promised ‘new deal’ for social housing. So, this is also a time to reflect on the progress, or lack of, since the fire.
One big area in which lessons must be learnt is the management of social housing.
Shelter, Grenfell United and many others have been calling for tougher, more proactive regulation of standards of social housing management. Our campaign has been calling for a system that ensures tenants are treated with the respect they deserve and are listened to when things go wrong. One that catches issues long before they become a threat to the health or safety of tenants.
This means proactive monitoring and tough enforcement of standards by a more accessible, stronger and more effective Regulator of Social Housing. And it means greater professionalisation of social housing management – a profession that should be held in the same regard and esteem as social care or teaching.
We strongly welcome the introduction of the Social Housing Regulation Bill, which includes measures to:
- enable the regulator to proactively enforce the consumer standards
- allow the regulator to take tougher action against substandard landlords in the form of higher (unlimited) fines
- allow tenants greater access to information from their landlords so they can more easily challenge poor standards.
But the bill doesn’t include some of the fundamentals promised by government.
- We want the bill to require that the Regulator make the regular and routine ‘Ofsted-style’ inspections that have been promised – and to seek the views of tenants and residents’ panels in the process.
- We want to see tough, new consumer standards that cover issues that matter most to tenants: such as estate regeneration or urgent rehousing to escape violence.
- We want the bill to require qualifications, training and professional development for housing management staff – much like those required by legislation in other social professions, like teaching or social care.
We think the bill can be strengthened to include and enable these key features to ensure high-quality social housing. Beyond next week, we’ll continue campaigning alongside tenants for meaningful change to improve social housing. The government must now ensure that the Social Housing Regulation Bill delivers on the promise of a system that treats tenants with the respect they deserve.
But on Tuesday, we pause, to remember the 72 lives lost five years ago. Forever in our hearts.