Grenfell group urges Government to take action on building fire safety

The campaign group of survivors and bereaved relatives from the Grenfell Tower disaster has urged the Government to take action after Michael Gove said there are still people in buildings at significant risk.

The Housing Secretary was speaking during his first appearance at the House of Commons’ Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee since taking on the job in September’s reshuffle.

Grenfell United said the Government “needs to put its money where its mouth is and stop lining its pockets with cash made at the cost of 72 lives”.

Conservative Party Conference
Michael Gove (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Gove told MPs on Monday: “We collectively – the department, some in local government, others in the private sector – failed people at Grenfell and there are people who were and still are in buildings where there is a significant risk.”

He went on to say that, as the Grenfell Inquiry turned its attention to the Government’s role in the disaster, his department “will be seen to have, on a couple of occasions, not necessarily appreciated the importance of fire safety and not necessarily done everything in the wake of the Lakanal House tragedy that it should have done”.

The 2009 fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell, London, resulted in six deaths and at least 20 injuries.

The first report from the Grenfell Inquiry being conducted by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick found that lessons from the Lakanal House fire had not been learned by the time of the Grenfell disaster eight years later.

Grenfell United said: “It’s convenient timing for the Government that it’s finally saying all the right things before its role in the Grenfell fire is soon going to be uncovered in the public inquiry.

“It’s been four and a half years since Grenfell and, four housing secretaries later, we are still in a building fire safety crisis.

“The Government were unwilling to learn lessons from the Lakanal House fire, and are failing to learn from Grenfell.

“Not a single recommendation from the public inquiry has been implemented. Buildings across the country are still unsafe and another Grenfell remains in the pipeline.

“It has been exposed that the Government’s relationship with the construction industry is based on financial gain to turn a blind eye at any expense.

“As long as the Government’s intentions are purely driven by relationships for cash, people will not be safe in their homes.

“If the Government is serious, it needs to put its money where its mouth is and stop lining its pockets with cash made at the cost of 72 lives.”

End Our Cladding Scandal posted a statement on Twitter saying they welcome Mr Gove’s comments “with cautious optimism”.

The statement said: “Leaseholders across the country are now all too aware that it is deeds and decisive actions that matter and not solely kind words – until Mr Gove delivers a solution that truly ends this scandal for once and for all, leaseholders will continue to suffer and will continue to consider bankruptcy and potential forfeiture amidst the wider mental health crisis we are still facing.”

The group added: “Simply put, Mr Gove’s words must now be the beginning of the end of our cladding scandal and not only the end of the beginning.”