Government 'failing' Grenfell Tower victims six months after fire

Jack Hardy
118 survivors remain in emergency accommodation, including 103 in hotels: Getty

Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Prime Minister of “failing” Grenfell Tower survivors, most of whom remain homeless six months on from the blaze.

Labour rounded on the Government for the slow progress in rehousing displaced families despite early pledges to have everyone out of hotels within three weeks.

In a letter to Theresa May, shadow housing minister John Healey sets out five areas where he claims Grenfell survivors and tower residents more widely continue to be let down.

He backed calls made in a petition for the Grenfell Tower public inquiry to be overseen by a diverse panel of experts, rather than just one judge.

Safety concerns in other high-rise blocks were still not being properly addressed, he said, after a nationwide audit found hundreds wrapped in flammable cladding.

Mrs May, widely criticised for her response in the aftermath of the fire, was also urged to hasten an overhaul of building regulations and properly fund work to make tall buildings safer.

Mr Corbyn said in a statement: “Six months on from the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government is failing to learn its lessons and, more importantly, failing the survivors.

“It is a disgrace that the majority of Grenfell residents have still not been given homes and that tower blocks across our country have still not been made safe.

“We need answers from the Government and we need action.”

The party's intervention comes as survivors and bereaved relatives prepare to mark six months since the tragedy, which left 71 dead, on Thursday.

Currently only 42 households from the tower have moved into permanent new homes and 118 remain in emergency accommodation, including 103 in hotels.

Mr Healey pointed to the Prime Minister's words on June 17 when she said she had fixed a deadline of three weeks “for everybody affected to be found a home nearby”.

He asked why more families had not been rehoused and how many would be in emergency rooms over Christmas.

His letter continued: “Why has the Government failed to provide any funding to build new homes, or to acquire existing empty homes to help survivors?”

Survivor's confidence and willingness to participate in the public inquiry led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick was “absolutely vital” to its success, the Labour MP said.

This meant that a petition launched by around 50 victims' families and the main survivors' group calling for experts from a diverse range of backgrounds to sit alongside him should be considered.

The shadow minister also weighed in on a continuing tussle between councils and central Government about funding for the safety installations recommended by fire chiefs.

It is “essential” that cash was set aside to finance the improvements, including £1 billion for the retro-fitting of sprinklers in older tower blocks, the Labour MP said.