Grenfell families accuse government of 'betrayal' over Queen's Speech

Grenfell families accuse government of ‘betrayal’ after Queen’s Speech fails to include proposals to protect tenants and make landlords more accountable nearly four years after 72 died in blaze

  • Social Housing White Paper was published by government in November 2020
  • The proposals included the right to smoke monoxide alarms in social housing
  • But the white paper has not yet been pushed through parliament 
  • And it was not mentioned in the Queen’s speech announcing the PM’s agenda

The families of Grenfell tower victims have accused the government of ‘betrayal’ after the Queen’s Speech failed to include proposals to protect tenants and make landlords more accountable. 

The Social Housing White Paper – created by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – was published in November 2020.

Proposals included the legal right to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all social housing – along with regular inspections of landlords to ensure they are sticking to fire protection rules and investigating tenants’ complaints properly.

But the white paper has not yet been pushed through parliament and was not mentioned in the Queen’s speech announcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s legislative agenda today.

The families of Grenfell tower victims have accused the government of ‘betrayal’ after the Queen’s Speech (pictured) failed to include proposals to protect tenants and make landlords more accountable

Grenfell United, a group of survivors and bereaved relatives from the Grenfell Tower fire, said its omission ‘shows the government’s disinterest in our housing crisis’. A total of 72 people died in the tower fire (pictured) on June 14, 2017

Grenfell United, a group of survivors and bereaved relatives from the Grenfell Tower fire, said its omission ‘shows the government’s disinterest in our housing crisis’.

A total of 72 people died in the tower fire on June 14, 2017.

They said the inclusion of the Planning Bill – which aims at expanding property ownership in areas where the Tories have recently won – ‘is a betrayal of the legacy we are so committed to achieve’.

The Social Housing White Paper was first published as a green paper – a consultation document that both MPs and those outside parliament can comment on – in 2018.

Grenfell United wrote an open letter to Boris Johnson ahead of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony today urging the paper to be mentioned. 

Grenfell United wrote an open letter to Boris Johnson ahead of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony today urging the paper to be mentioned. Pictured: Grenfell Tower after the blaze

Key points from the Queen’s Speech 

These are the key policies announced by Boris Johnson in the Queen’s Speech. The PM is attempting to solidify his support from traditional Labour voters with moves to boost jobs, crack down on illegal immigration, and curb ‘woke’ culture.

  • A ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ will be enshrined in law to enable anyone to upgrade their qualifications, regardless of their background;
  • An immigration overhaul will block asylum for people who have travelled through ‘safe’ countries such as France and Belgium;
  • A total ban on online junk food ads will go ahead despite claims ministers were trying to kill off the ‘half-baked’ idea;
  • The PM will take back control of the timing of elections and could shorten the length of campaigns, with a row over proposals to require ID for people to vote;
  • People denied a platform by universities could seek compensation in the courts under government plans to tackle ‘cancel culture’;
  • There will be a ban on ‘conversion therapy’;
  • The government has renewed its commitment to cut carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels;
  • New measures will recognise animal sentience and crack down on growing problem of pet theft.

The letter, published in Inside Housing, read: ‘Grenfell United have now been waiting almost four years for this commitment to be fulfilled and we are not prepared to be kept waiting any longer.

‘The Queen’s Speech on 11 May will provider your government with the ideal opportunity to progress the Social Housing White Paper on its journey through parliament and we are expecting nothing less.’

Following the Queen’s speech – which made no mention of the paper – the group accused the Government of ‘betrayal’.

‘The Social Housing White Paper’s exclusion from the Queen’s Speech shows the government’s disinterest in our housing crisis,’ the group tweeted.

‘Their priorities are for landlords and developers, evidenced by the inclusion of the Planning Bill. This is a betrayal of the legacy we are so committed to achieve.’ 

The Planning Bill will simplify the planning process, making it more difficult for homeowners to block new housing schemes, according to The Times.

The Queen sat alone today while carrying out her first major public duty since the death of her husband Prince Philip a month ago – with the consort’s throne removed from the State Opening of Parliament ceremony for the first time in 120 years.

Her Majesty took part in a scaled-back, socially-distanced event at the House of Lords where was supported by her son Prince Charles.

Following Philip’s death, the consort’s throne has been omitted from the ceremony for the first time since it was installed in 1901 for Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII. The throne – normally kept at Houghton Hall in Norfolk and moved into the Lords for every State Opening – was not used this year, and is instead in the care of the Lord Great Chamberlain for safekeeping.

The Prince of Wales has previously sat on the consort’s throne when accompanying the Queen. But during today’s ceremony, Charles sat with the Duchess of Cornwall on chairs of state – placed to the side.

The 95-year-old monarch did not wear a face mask at the ceremony while all other participants did, and Her Majesty was also without the two-pound Imperial State crown or ceremonial robes.

Charles’s presence at her side this year, so soon after the death of Philip aged 99 on April 9, will be seen as a sign of things to come at future royal engagements.

The Queen wore what royal officials described as ‘day dress’ – a coat and hat – instead of her ceremonial robes or crown and travelled by car from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, rather than by coach.

She was accompanied by a lady-in-waiting and had earlier been driven from Windsor Castle.

The monarch’s Imperial State Crown was, as in recent years, carried separately and placed on a table in the House of Lords before she gave her keynote speech, outlining the government’s plans for the year.

In the speech, Mr Johnson vowed to ‘turbo-charge the Covid recovery’ today as he unveiled a raft of measures for the ‘Blue Wall’ with moves to boost jobs, crack down on illegal immigration, and curb ‘woke’ culture.

The Prime Minister warned it is not enough to go back to pre-pandemic ways as the monarch laid out the package of legislation for the next parliamentary session.

In a state occasion stripped of most of the usual pomp and ceremony, the Queen – in her first major duty since the death of Prince Philip – said the country should be ‘stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before’. 

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