Council approves package of measures to rehouse Grenfell Tower blaze survivors

The council linked to the Grenfell Tower disaster has waved through a £76.5 million package to rehouse survivors amid accusations some faced being "cheated".

The multi-million pound measures were agreed at a meeting of senior councillors at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), including £40 million to buy homes from private social housing providers.

A budget of £20 million was also agreed to purchase new homes from the housing market.

Hundreds were left homeless when an inferno devoured the 24-storey block on June 14, killing at least 80.

Ten weeks on from the fire, the majority remain in either hotels or temporary accommodation.

During the meeting at Kensington Town Hall, attended by a handful of residents, a commitment of at least £16.5 million was also made to reimburse those who owned flats in the tower.

RBKC's valuation of the leaseholder properties caused friction, with several saying they would be left unable to buy a similar flat in the area.

Former resident Fahed Barakat, 32, choked back tears as he lamented the loss of his former home in Grenfell Tower, while accusing the council of attempting to "cheat" them.

He said the loss of his job and poor financial situation had effectively made him "homeless" as he had been renting out his Grenfell Tower flat before the fire and is now categorised a "non-resident".

"Fortunately I have come out alive from this ordeal," he told the meeting.

"Every time I talk to my neighbours, I can no longer see my neighbours, I can only see the tragic events and that is something that will haunt me.

"I worked hard only to have this dream taken away from me as no fault of my own and even to be discriminated against because of my dire financial situation before the fire, my home was my castle but my castle became ashes."

"I think I find this offer quite insulting, mainly because the way I see it and the other leaseholders see it, the proposal seems intent on cheating leaseholders of their home.

"It is impossible to find a property for the same amount you are offering in the area."

Tiago Alves, another leaseholder in Grenfell Tower, said the council had to meet the residents' valuation of the flats as no-one in the building had wanted to sell their home.

The council estimated if all leaseholders agreed to a deal to purchase new properties using an interest-free loan of up to 150% of their flat's market value, it would cost £16.5 million.

Breaking down that estimation, Mr Alves said, with 17 leaseholder properties in Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk, it meant the council believed they were worth between £300,000 and £350,000.

He said: "If someone came up to me and offered £350,000 on June 14 I would have laughed in their face."

Deputy council leader Kim Taylor-Smith responded that the leaseholders would have the option to carry out their own independent valuation of the flats, paid for by the authority.

A consultation with the leaseholders will now go ahead to decide how they will secure a new home.

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