SOMETHING must be done. This must never happen again. These are the type of stock phrases politicians always use when bad things happen, and often they sound utterly trite.

But sometimes we all resort to language like this when we simply cannot find words to express the sorrow and anger we feel. The Grenfell Tower fire has been one of those moments and over the last few days I cannot tell you how many times friends, family and I have used such platitudes again and again in an attempt to process the horror and injustice of it all.

This time it has to be different, however. We need to rediscover the strength and power of these two phrases. Following Grenfell something really, really must be done; this must never, ever, ever happen again.

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I’ve thought long and hard about what Kensington and Chelsea Council, the UK government, Theresa May could possibly do to genuinely help the families of those who have been killed, and the hundreds who lost everything when their homes went up in smoke.

Beyond the obvious rehousing and financial compensations, beyond making safety checks on other housing blocks and looking at the health and safety legislation, how do you start to make up for the immense pain and suffering that survivors of this fire will ensure for many years to come? How do you even begin to commemorate and honour the dead following a tragedy like this?

Making genuine attempts to tackle the housing crisis that caused it would surely be a good start. But until Mrs May and her government admit this crisis exists and take responsibility for the reasons behind it, they will be doing a serious disservice to the people of Grenfell Tower.

It was, of course, Mrs May’s Conservative party that moved housing in Britain from a primarily social concern to an economic one. In the space of a few years in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher your house changed from being simply a place to live into an investment above all else. The market was put in charge of housing and the idea that national or local government would, could or should control it became anathema. What also became anathema when the council houses were sold off was the idea that people who rented their homes should enjoy the same freedoms and protections as those who owned them. Living in a rented house became socially unacceptable

With little public stock left and the building of affordable housing practically halted, the private sector took over and prices rocketed. The need for increased profits inevitably meant standards fell, and few local authorities could afford or had the will to provide the inspection regimes necessary to ensure the rules and regulations were adhered to.

Nowhere can you see the hideous results of all this more keenly than in London, where the distance between the wealthy and poor grows ever vaster by the day, despite the fact they often live check by jowl, as in the borough of Chelsea and Kensington and Grenfell Tower itself.

This tower would have been overcrowded in comparison to such a building in Glasgow, say, and with demand for housing so much more intense in London the council rents there would have been high by Scottish standards, the private rents exorbitant – realistically upwards of £1600 a month for a two-bedroom property.

We’ve heard much about the poverty of the residents, but many would have been “poor” solely because of their high rents rather than any lack of work or education; as we’ve heard there were architects and artists among the residents, as well as public servants and people running their own businesses.

In Scotland the situation may not be as acute, but with 40 per cent of our population renting their home – many of them young people struggling with low incomes and/or student debt – and unable to countenance buying, the same issues exist and fester, making out society more unequal than ever.

And, as Grenfell Tower has highlighted, housing poverty, just like any other kind of poverty, leaves you vulnerable and voiceless, your demands for protections and improvements to your home simply an annoyance to those whose bed you feather. The gap between those who own property and those who do not, which has increasingly become modern shorthand for the haves and have-nots, the older and younger generations, widens ever further.

That is why the Grenfell fire is already being referred to as the tragedy of our age. And that is why any Government that genuinely wants to prevent any repeat must focus on short, medium and long-term solutions to the housing crisis. More genuinely affordable houses for sale and rent, more investment in housing inspections and health and safety, more expert housing representation at senior levels in local and national government would be a start.

None of this will help the dead at Grenfell Tower, of course. But it could help the survivors and it would help the next generation. It would surely be the right sort of “something” that must be done.