Families who lost homes in Grenfell ‘still living in temporary accommodation’

Families who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire nearly two years ago are still living in temporary accommodation, the Government has said.

Housing minister Kit Malthouse said more than 180 households had been placed in permanent accommodation after the fire, which destroyed the West London tower block and claimed 72 lives in June 2017.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Malthouse added that 15 remain in temporary accommodation, which includes hotels and serviced apartments.

He said: “As well as feeling more secure, nothing is more important than people being safe in their homes, so we will also be implementing a new regulatory framework for building safety.

“It is no small task, but it is the debt we owe to those who suffered so terribly at Grenfell fire.”

During a General Debate on Housing the minister was also accused of “staggering complacency” about homelessness by a Birmingham MP, who said the city should have a memorial to those who have died on its streets as a “permanent reminder of those we have failed”.

General Election 2017
 John Healey MP said the Government was ‘on go-slow’ when it came to action on re-housing (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

On Grenfell, Mr Malthouse admitted that, while the Government is “very close” to being able to rehouse everyone who lost their home a “small number” of people were yet to be found new permanent accommodation.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “Nearly two years on from that shocking national tragedy, the Government action is still on go-slow.”

Mr Healey said one in ten of those from the tower, and one in three from those in the wider estate involved in the Grenfell Tower fire have still not got permanent new homes.

He added that eight out of ten buildings with similar cladding had still not had it removed and replaced.

Mr Malthouse responded: “We have been putting enormous effort into the rehousing of the 202 households from Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk which require rehousing.

“Every one has accepted an offer of either high quality temporary accommodation or permanent accommodation. A hundred and ninety six have moved in. A hundred and eighty one have moved into their permanent home, and 15 remain in temporary accommodation.

“Six whole households remain in emergency accommodation, only two in hotels, and three in serviced apartments, and one is living with family or friends.”

Mr Malthouse said the Government is dealing with the situation “slowly and sensitively”, and noted no one can be “compelled” to do anything they don’t want to do.

Mr Healey said he was “doing the survivors a disservice” by telling a story which is “at odds” with the experience of those people affected by the fire.

Labour’s Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill) said he was “staggered to hear the minister’s complacency about homelessness”, saying that in his region under a Tory Mayor it was up by 333%.

He said people are “dying at the rate of one a fortnight”, and read out the names of everyone who had died in the last 15 months on the streets of Birmingham.

Mr Byrne, a former minister, said he has seen people living “in subways in their hospital gowns” and those suffering from “rat bites, fighting and fearing sepsis”.

He said the names were “a roll call of shame”, and called for the building of a “permanent memorial (so) we are confronted every day with the names of those who died and the names of those we have failed”.

He added: “But the best memorial would be to end this scandal for good, and sweep the disgrace of homelessness into the history books once more.”

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