Residents and activists are preparing to march on Saturday to demand justice for those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.
On Wednesday the Home Office announced that undocumented migrants with evidence about the fire would have a deportation amnesty extended.
The announcement is a result of campaigners pressuring Kensington and Chelsea council to submit to the government that people should be given an indefinite amnesty.
A statement from the Home Office said, “Eligible survivors granted the initial 12 months’ leave outside the Immigration Rules will be able to apply for further periods of limited leave with access to public funds and permission to work, and indefinite leave to remain after 5 years’ lawful residence.”
Relatives of victims of the fire will only be given a six month amnesty.
That means there are still limitations on survivors’ access to justice. Unless everyone with knowledge about the fire is given full amnesty the full truth will not come into the open.
Tory immigration minister Brandon Lewis said that survivors’ right to remain is “subject to their continued eligibility and the necessary security and criminality checks being met.”
In August the Tories mapped out what “eligibility” meant.
Anyone “whose presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good” would not be eligible. Also excluded was “any person for whom there are concerns about criminality, character or associations” and “any person who has refused to supply their biometrics.”
So there is still very good reason for people to be sceptical about what the amnesty actually means.
Nevertheless, Wednesday’s announcement represents a partial victory. Full amnesty for undocumented migrants is a key demand for the Justice4Grenfell campaign group. It also shows that campaigning and protesting works.
Saturday's silent march is important—they are held monthly and have been growing in size. Last month’s saw some 1,000 people march on Grenfell Tower. They have shown that the anger people feel is not going away.
The Grenfell Tower fire has thrust the state and safety of social housing into the centre of political debate.
Tory chancellor Philip Hammond has disgracefully said that a council would only get money for renovation and safety repairs if it "genuinely does not have any available resource".
His alternative is to remove rules that “ring-fence” parts of council budgets. It is totally inadequate and it puts lives in danger.
It is now four months since the fire. People across Britain are still living in fear that their blocks could burn down because of inadequate fire protection and potentially flammable cladding.
In Glasgow two blocks at the Castlebank Drive development now have 24-hour fire wardens and fire brigade checks every four hours.
One resident told the Daily Record newspaper, “The cladding in my block and one other has no fire resistance at all.
“We now have two 24-hour fire wardens, four-hourly visits from fire brigade and a huge amount of parking attendants ensuring that access is clear.”
The city has 19 privately-owned tower blocks with combustible cladding on them.
Councils should be tearing off cladding, no matter the cost. And in Scotland the SNP government, which has control of housing, should be releasing funds for the work to be carried out.
Blaming the Tories for lack of funding is not enough, no matter how they might be dragging their feet—they must be forced into action.
The legacy of Grenfell must be safe homes for all.