The Metropolitan Police have confirmed the final death toll of the Grenfell Tower fire is 71 people.
Fatalities include one family of six, and at least three families of five, and ranged in ages from a stillborn baby to an 84 year-old woman. The pattern of deaths exposes inadequacies of social housing — housing the elderly high up in tower blocks with inadequate escape routes, and large families in small flats.
Rumours that the real death toll is higher still persist. While this is extremely unlikely, it is understandable that many distrust the authorities. It is also true that many residents will have been ″unofficial″ residents, subletting or staying with family. Many people did not give reports to authorities because of fears over immigration status.
320 households are still living in hotel accommodation, including more than 200 children. They have yet to have been offered suitable long-term housing offers by the council.
Many have had offers of short-term housing which they have, understandably, turned down in order to wait to be housed long term and avoid future upheavals. There is simply not enough social housing.
Theresa May announced new housing policies at Tory party conference in October but these will barely scratch the surface of the housing crisis. The Radical Housing Network said ″May is pumping £10 billion into a housing policy that worsens the housing crisis: Help to Buy has kept house prices high, provides subsidies to a small number of people, and does nothing to address the chronic shortage of low-cost housing.
″And her announcement of £2 billion for affordable housing alongside permitting some councils to build more social rent homes is simply tinkering at the edges of a failed system. [The policy] would only provide homes for just 5% of the 1.2 million people who have languished on waiting lists for years.″
Only 13% of the new homes announced in the last year meet the government′s ″affordability″ standard — a very unaffordable 80% of market rate — and many of those homes are to buy, not rent.
Grenfell campaigners are now trying to save Kensington and Chelsea Further Education college (where many residents have studied) which they fear will close after it merges with another college in a different borough.