Week in review: Grenfell has shone a light on the failings of state support

"Failings of state support are not limited to Grenfell"
"Failings of state support are not limited to Grenfell"
Natalie Bloomer By

When Theresa May stood up in the Commons yesterday and apologised for the failings of the state in relation to Grenfell Tower, she was speaking specifically about the support that was provided in the hours and days following the tragic fire.

But the failings of state support are not limited to Grenfell. One of the many issues this horrific event has highlighted is just how many gaping holes there are in the safety net that the government should be providing.

Let's look first at Theresa May's promise that no immigration checks will be carried out on those coming forward for assistance. This is from a woman who once said: "The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration." Well she got her wish. Her "hostile environment" has led to undocumented migrants living a life of fear. From the survivors of Grenfell to victims of domestic violence to those with serious illness, people across the UK are having to choose between seeking support and the risk of being deported.


It's all well and good to argue that if somebody is in the country illegally they shouldn't be entitled to state support, but that argument ignores the reasons why people are here in the first place. If everything was fine and rosy in their home country they would hardly leave it for a life in the shadows here in the UK where access to housing, healthcare, education and employment is severely restricted.

While some at Grenfell were afraid of immigration checks, others were terrified of benefit sanctions. Groups working with people on the ground raised concerns that residents could have their benefits stopped because they couldn't get to the jobcentre to sign on. You might think this was unlikely to happen, until you remember that people have been sanctioned in the past for things like being in hospital or being just five minutes late to an appointment. Again, the government has had to make assurances that this particular policy won't affect the people of Grenfell.

Then there's universal credit, which was due to be rolled out in North Kensington next month. The government has now halted the plans. Could it be because this has been so chaotic elsewhere that they wouldn't want to inflict it on people who are already suffering?

And today, there are reports that Grenfell residents who are forced to move because of the fire could be hit by the bedroom tax - the same policy that has already caused so many people distress.

The very fact that the government has to make reassurances that its own policies won't affect the people of Grenfell shows that they are aware just how cruel these policies are. Otherwise why the need to put a stop to them?

Grenfell is the biggest tragedy this country has seen for decades. But every day vulnerable people across the UK experience their own individual crises and every day instead of supporting those people the government makes their lives harder.

Natalie Bloomer is a journalist for Politics.co.uk. You can follow her on Twitter here.

The opinions in politics.co.uk's Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.

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